Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) told an audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sunday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would stand with Iranian citizens dissatisfied with the Iranian regime.
"To my fellow citizens here tonight and to the brave Iranians who will also hear us," he said, "you should know that in Secretary Pompeo, you have a friend and you have a champion."
Iranian protesters have taken to the streets in recent months to express discontent with the current regime’s management of the economy and support of proxy terror organizations in the Middle East.
Last month, protesters chanted "Death to Palestine" and "Leave Syria, think of us." The regime has provided support for Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to retake control of Syria and for Hamas, the Islamist fundamentalist organization that governs the Gaza Strip.
The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that the Trump administration was divided over whether to sanction Iran’s chief propaganda network:
Iranian dissidents and congressional opponents of the hardline ruling regime in Tehran are pushing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to end a secret deal with Iran that has prevented the United States from leveling sanctions on the Islamic Republic's chief propaganda network, which has been working to quash a wave of popular protests, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
While the Trump administration has issued multiple public statements backing Iranian protesters who are fed up with the regime's financial support for terror groups, it has avoided sanctioning the IRIB, which dissidents view as a key step in helping their campaign against the ruling regime.
As protests continue to percolate and grow, the Trump administration has found itself in the position of trying to bolster these protestors while avoiding being seen as backing regime change in Iran. This policy was once advocated by current White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, who saidin May this is not the Trump administration's current goal.
In a speech delivered after Cotton’s remarks, Pompeo described Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as "merely polished front men for the ayatollahs’ international con artistry" and "wolves in sheep’s clothing."
"In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny," Pompeo continued, "I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you; the United States supports you; the United States is with you."
Cotton told the audience that Pompeo "knows the noble aspirations of the Iranian people to live in freedom and with dignity are not only a moral concern, but also a strategic imperative for the United States in our efforts to constrain this outlaw regime."
"The ayatollahs crave legitimacy. But the Iranian people will never give it to them, and the United States will not confer it as long as Mike Pompeo is our secretary of state," concluded Cotton.