Republicans Agitate For Leadership Change In Iran, Want Visas To Observe Upcoming Elections

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Three Republican legislators want Iran to grant them visitor visas so they can visit the country and make sure regular Iranians have the latitude to fundamentally transform the regime through a fair electoral process.

The upcoming elections in Iran may determine whether the country abides by the nuclear deal signed in 2015. If hard-line elements hijack the electoral process, the nuclear deal may fall through entirely. Reps. Mike Pompeo, Lee Zeldin and Frank LoBiondo want Iran to issue visas as a gesture of good-will. With those visas in hand, the legislators will try and push for a new regime and observe the electoral process.

GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the Iranian people want a regime shift away from “leaders who prioritize the terrorist financial interests of the IRGC or the twisted geo-political dreams of the Supreme Leader. The Iranian people deserve a government that will not allow its people to suffer under sanctions, for the goal of illicit nuclear and weapons programs.”

“Democracy has served the United States incredibly well, and the Iranian people have stood up and cried out for democracy,” Pompeo added. “It is time their leaders listened.”

Allowing the three in the country would be a good opportunity for Iran to prove it is serious about abiding by the nuclear deal, said Pompeo.

However, the Iranians don’t seem interested in playing along. Iran has blown past the deadline for issuing the visas. Without an intervention, the three legislators will not be heading to Iran to scrutinize the election.

Iran’s rejection of the visa is not especially surprising, given that the legislators intend to visit with the express goal of pushing back against the existing regime. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has brushed off the visa request as little more than propaganda.

Hossein Jaberi Ansari, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said that “Iran opposes any foreign interference in its national affairs.”

“While I have yet to receive a response from the Iranian government, several Iranian politicians have publicly attacked Congressmen Zeldin and LoBiondo and me in the press,” Pompeo told TheDCNF. “However, we continue to follow up with the Iranians in hopes of receiving a response.  Given Secretary Kerry’s close relationship with Foreign Minister Zarif, we have also requested his assistance in securing our visas.”

Kerry said he has already relied on the close relationship with Zarif to request the speedy return of the 10 U.S. Navy sailors captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in mid-January.

Pompeo wants regular Iranians to agitate against leadership to allow the three entrance to the country.

“It is my judgment that the Iranians should be demanding that we come to their country,” Pompeo said.

“Allowing Americans to be present for the elections, as well as facilitating our agenda, would be a great opportunity for Iran to prove that it is a partner in peace and will comply with the terms of the nuclear agreement,” Pompeo added.

Observing elections isn’t the only purpose of the visit. The legislators also want to meet with American hostages and tour three Iranian nuclear facilities, as well as receiving an explanation about IRGC activities directed against the U.S., namely the capture of 10 U.S. Navy sailors. The legislators also want information on recent missile tests.

Rep. Lee Zeldin backed Pompeo’s proposal and suggested that a regime change is exactly what “millions of Iranians have taken to the streets through the years desperately pleading to implement.” While refereeing the election is, of course, not possible, observing the elections to “ensure they are fair and free” most certainly is, Zeldin insisted.

The elections will decide the composition of the Iranian parliament, which has 290 seats, as well as the 89-member Assembly of Experts. The Assembly of Experts is the body that chooses the next Supreme Leader of Iran.

The State Department does not appear overly enthusiastic about the Republicans’ attempt to influence the election outcome. This hesitation, according to Rep. Frank LoBiondo, is because the administration is loath to criticize Iran for fear of jeopardizing the nuclear deal.

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