Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quick to accuse the U.S.-backed Gulf Arab states of orchestrating an attack on a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz on Saturday, when four unidentified armed men opened fire – killing at least 29 people, including a dozen Iranian Revolutionary Guards, while 60 more were wounded.
While acknowledging the conflicting accounts of who was behind the onslaught, President Trump’s lawyer and outspoken opponent of the Iranian leadership, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, suspects that the schism may have come from within the army itself.
“Some people say it was other Iranian guards who attacked because it was so well done. It seemed to catch them by surprise,” he told Fox News ahead of the “2018 Iranian Uprising Summit” in New York on Saturday. “I think it was internal... So when you start to see the military break apart, it’s probably the first real sign that things are coming.”
However, Iranian security forces have since randomly arrested a number of Arabs in Ahvaz, following media reports that the opposition group of al-Ahvaz National Resistance claimed responsibility for the offensive.
While Giuliani stressed that the deaths of innocents “is not the kind of thing you want to see,” he advocated that a “peaceful” overthrow of the current Iranian vanguard is the only solution for a prosperous nation and stable Middle East.
Such a fall, Giuliani said, could come at any moment.
“Who would have known the timeline in Russia or the timeline in Poland or the timeline in Hungary. When it happens it happens. We generally see a very repressive, very militaristic regime and think it can’t be overthrown. We don’t realize as people’s desire for freedom reaches a boiling point it can overcome that,” he continued. “Then it just happens. That’s what is going to happen here. We are going to wake up one morning and someone has been overthrown. It may not happen tomorrow, but it is inevitable the way they are oppressing people.”
And while the Trump administration’s pullout in May of the United States from the JCPOA, better known as the Iran Deal, has meant that the economic sanctions are steadily being re-imposed on the already embattled nation – the president’s lawyer mandates that the hardline approach is undoubtedly “working.”
“It is terrible that they have to be pressured this way. But realistically the only way you see an overthrow like this, remember what the sanctions in South Africa did to end apartheid. So they are working,” Giuliani claimed. “President Trump shows the world the road that President Reagan took in terms of communism. When he embraced solidarity, he said this protest movement is because these people are being oppressed. They are being treated horribly and because Iran is investing money in terrorism and not the people. That’s why the people are starving.”
Anti-government protests have been spilling out across Iran since January, of which Trump has tweeted support for those taking to the streets. And since withdrawing from the deal with Tehran, the president has stated he would be willing to “re-negotiate” what he deemed to be one of the worst deals ever formulated by Western leadership.
So what would such a new deal look like?
“There is no doubt what a re-negotiated deal would mean, and that is complete and absolute denuclearization of Iran and a change in which it supports terrorism throughout the world,” Giuliani conjectured. “Because they are an existential danger to us and to Israel and we can’t accept that. Those two things would be critical.”
He also vowed that “internal changes would be necessary to assure that the other two things would actually happen.”
“In other words, if they promised to de-nuclearize and they promised not to threaten the U.S. and Israel, [and] our allies, but they remained the kind of militaristic religious fanatic that kills people they aren’t going to keep their promise,” Giuliani noted. “So you have got to see some fundamental change in the regime that gives you the assurance that the promise can be kept. And be willing for complete and absolute transparency.”
However, the organization that Giuliani trumpets as the only viable replacement -- who organized the opposition summit – are longstanding, albeit controversial, opposition group MEK.
Tehran has long classified the MEK or “People’s Mujahedeen of Iran,” a terrorist organization not only for its present opposition but for siding with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein throughout the devastating Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. The Iranian government blames the MEK for the deaths of more than 12,000 Iranians over the past three decades.
The MEK was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 1997, but was removed from the list in 2012. Eight years earlier, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld designated the group as civilian "protected persons" under the Geneva Convention.
It is now viewed by prominent figures in the Washington elite – from Giuliani and current National Security Adviser John Bolton to Obama’s National Security Adviser General James Jones and the late Sen. John McCain – as the only plausible secular alternative to today’s Tehran leadership.
“We call on the United States to expel the Iranian regime’s operatives from America. We urge Western governments to shut down or restrict the regime's embassies, which are control centers for espionage and terrorism; and to expel this regime's criminal forces from Syria and Iraq,” the organization’s Paris-based female leader, Maryam Rajavi, told the thousand-plus crowd via video feed. “Iran’s seat at the United Nations does not belong to the terrorist regime ruling it. That seat belongs to the Iranian people and Resistance.”
Indeed, Giuliani nonchalantly dismissed any condemnation of the group or accusations of it amassing a “cult” like environment, standing firm in his commitment to the group of which he has been proudly associated with for more than a decade.
“Of the last ten years that I have been involved with them and I come to this event every year,” he added. “This is the first time I see hope that there can be real change in Iran.”