Eric: Mark Dubowitz joins us, CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. So Mark, this meeting, starting February 13th in Poland will help create, they hope, an Arab NATO. Do you think the Gulf States, the Sunni Arab allies and the European nations that just slapped more sanctions against Iran, do you think they can all unite against that regime?
Mark: Eric I just got back from the Gulf, I met with top leaders in the Gulf Arab countries, I was also in India, and you get a sense from the Gulf, from countries around the world that there is deep concern for what Secretary Pompeo rightly calls the destructive and malign activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran. So I would expect dozens of countries to be in Poland to talk about these destructive activities and I think this is something that is necessary — and I think even the Europeans, who have opposed President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, understand that the Islamic Republic needs to be stopped.
Eric: Yeah in the Netherlands, the EU is slapping sanctions on Tehran because they accuse the government of sending assassination squads that killed two activists on the streets in 2015 and 2017. Two dissidents shot in the head. Do you think the Europeans really will give up Iranian business for the principal of dealing with this outlaw regime?
Mark: I don’t think they will, I don’t think they want to, but I don’t think they have any choice, because I think President Trump is rightly putting them to a fundamental choice between Iran’s $400 billion economy and America’s $20 trillion economy. Between doing business with the Iranian rial, which has been collapsing in value and doing business with the U.S. dollar which is the world’s predominant currency, so European business leaders are making a very different decision than the European political leaders and they’re high-tailing it out of the Islamic Republic.
Eric: So what do you expect could happen out of this meeting if indeed the Europeans don’t want to give up the dough?
Mark: Well I think the Europeans are acknowledging the reality that they have very little choice and I think there just needs to be a common understanding that regardless of your position on the Iran nuclear deal, I think dozens of countries including the Europeans understand the Iranian regime is engaged in assassinations and support for terrorism and building ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, including ICBMs to target the United States and other countries, and not to mention brutal human rights abuses within Iran. So I think that there is a broader understanding amongst dozens of countries, including the Europeans, that those aspects of Iran’s malign activities need to be addressed immediately.
Eric: And you just mentioned an assassination plot, there was one here in the United States, where the intelligence services were allegedly behind and a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, in a restaurant in Georgetown. Let me show you some video of the big meeting by the largest opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. They hold this huge rally, there’s Maryam Rajavi, who is the head of that group. They hold this huge rally just outside of Paris every year. And authorities in Belgium and in France, they’ve arrested three people, including an Iranian diplomat in an alleged plot to bomb, that Iran was going to bomb that rally, and it included a lot of former U.S. officials including Rudy Giuliani, who speak every year at that group. So you’ve got a potential assassination planned right there in France allegedly directed by Tehran, and here’s what Ms. Rajavi says about Secretary Pompeo, “The U.S. Secretary of State reiterated that when America partners with enemies suchs as the mullahs, ‘they advance…’ gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, violations of human rights, export of fundamentalism, and terrorism are the four pillars holding up the theocratic regime ruling Iran. The ultimate solution for discarding the mullahs’ religious fascism is changing this illegitimate regime at the hands of the Iranian people and Resistance.” Can that ever be done?
Mark: Well one hopes, I mean people were very skeptical in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan came into office and believed that we had to reach some kind of détente with the Soviet Union that they would be around for generations and Reagan called them rightly so the evil empire and launched a comprehensive policy, using all the instruments of national policy to go after the Soviet Union. Six-seven years later, the Soviet Union collapsed, so I think these regimes are actually a lot weaker than you would expect. They use repression and brutality to keep down their own people. And the Islamic Republic is spending billions of dollars on an expansionist agenda through the Middle-East and through the world. I think that hopefully within our lifetime we will see the end of the Islamic Republic, which is the best guarantee for global security.
Eric: And they also allegedly targeted two of the National Council of Resistance of Iran officials who live here, in the United States, in Washington. Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, always appreciate you coming in and thank you as always, for your insight.