Biden Iran Envoy on Ropes After Pro-Regime Comments

Robert Malley’s credibility, the State Department won’t say what the mass protests are about

Biden administration envoy to Iran Robert Malley/Getty Images

Adam Kredo • October 25, 2022 4:30 p.m

The Biden administration’s Iran envoy, Robert Malley, is under increasing pressure to step down as members of Congress and Iranian-American advocacy groups lose faith in his ability to support a growing protest movement in the Islamic Republic that threatens to topple the hardline regime.

The protests, which first erupted after the regime’s morality police murdered a young woman who was not wearing the proper headscarf, quickly evolved into a referendum on the Iranian regime itself. But Malley, who has been the administration’s public face in diplomacy with Tehran, claimed the protesters are just proving that “their government respects their dignity and human rights” – even with mounting evidence, they are protesting the end of an oppressive regime.

The Biden administration is still waiving economic sanctions against the Iranian regime as it seeks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, even as the chances of reaching a deal are diminishing. Those efforts have also forced the administration to walk a diplomatic tightrope, offering tepid support to protesters to avoid isolating the hardline government from negotiations. After Malley’s online gaffe, the State Department declined to respond Washington Free Beacon questions about whether he believes Iran’s protesters are seeking regime change, even as those protesters chant “Death to the dictator” and make it clear they want the theocratic government to fall.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a leading congressional critic of the new Iran deal, is in favor Free lighthouse that “the Biden administration is literally invested in the survival of the Iranian regime because the administration wants Iranian oil to make up for the disaster they caused by attacking American energy producers. So they can’t bring themselves to support calls from the people of Iran for regime change.” “

“Robert Malley will go down in the history books as the most ineffective and powerless State Department official in 50 years. It’s time for him to go,” said Bryan Leib, executive director of Iranian Americans for Liberty, a grassroots pro-democracy group. , he told Free lighthouse. “His latest Twitter gaffe is just another example of how he has associated the United States government with the Islamic Republic rather than the freedom-seeking people of Iran. His bogus apology is not accepted and he must be fired immediately.”

Leib’s comments were echoed by many on Twitter, who accused Malley of obfuscating the issue.

“This is a revolution,” Alireza Nader, an Iran expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, responded to Malley’s tweet.

“Respect?” asked popular Iranian commentator Saman Arabi. “Iranian [people] they are literally demanding regime change!”

Although Malley later apologized for his tweet, saying it was “poorly worded,” congressional sources and other foreign policy insiders say the damage has been done and that Malley’s credibility with Iran’s reformers is broken.

“As long as Malley is the special envoy, you know the administration’s policy is still to offer sanctions relief to the regime in Tehran,” he said. Richard Goldberg, a former White House National Security Council official who worked on Iran issues and is now a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “If he leaves, it will be the first sign of a political shift away from accommodating the regime and helping the Iranian people.”

The State Department’s official position on the protest movement is also confused. Spokesman Ned Price did not say during the department’s daily briefing on Monday whether the administration believes the protesters want regime change, although he has been presented with clear evidence that this is the case.

“It’s not up to us to explain what the people of Iran are asking for,” Price said. “We would never set out to describe what they’re looking for.”

Several reporters were left confused by the response, with one saying: “Ned, I think the point is you don’t have to interpret what they’re saying. What do you see what they’re calling for Do you think they’re calling for something less like regime change?”

“I will not speak for the Iranian people,” Price replied.

The reporter, Matthew Lee of the Associated Press, continued with his question: “Well, let’s say if I’m walking down the street with a sign that says oranges are bad, fine – orange, fruit, oranges are bad; they should be banned – what would you say my message is?”

“I’m a spokesperson for the US State Department. I’m not a spokesperson for oranges,” Price replied.

A State Department spokesman declined to a Free lighthouse request for comment on the administration’s assessment of what the Iranian protesters are demanding.


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