The collapse of Iran’s Islamic regime “is around the corner,” and the U.S. will keep increasing sanctions until it happens, President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani told an exiled Iranian opposition group.
The former New York mayor added at an event near Paris that he was speaking “as a private American citizen,” not on behalf of the Trump administration. Giuliani isn’t known to have inside knowledge of U.S. foreign-policy plans.
Speaking to the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, a group that for years was on the U.S.’s terrorism list, Giuliani said European nations and former President Barack Obama had appeased the Islamic regime and said “Trump doesn’t turn his back on freedom fighters.”
“This government is about to collapse, and this is the time to turn on the pressure,” Giuliani told a crowd of about 1,000 flag-waving MEK followers. “Thank God my president turned his back on that very dangerous nuclear deal with Iran. We are not going to do business with the world’s top sponsor of terrorism.”
Europe “should be ashamed of itself” for continuing to buy Iranian oil, Giuliani added. “I can’t figure it out why leaders of Western democracies want to prop up the agreement that will inevitably make an insane dictatorship.”
Since joining Trump’s legal team in April, Giuliani has continued to accept outside speaking engagements in the U.S. and abroad. He declined to comment Saturday when asked about his speaking fee.
In early June, Giuliani spoke at a capital-markets conference in Tel Aviv, where he praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, blamed the Palestinians for lack of a peace deal, criticized legal probes against Netanyahu and Trump, and defended the president’s attitude toward women.
Giuliani also spoke to an Iranian anti-government group in Washington in early May, correctly predicting that Trump would pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear agreement.
Also on the podium on Saturday were former U.S. House Speaker and informal Trump adviser Newt Gingrich, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, two former French foreign ministers, and five members of the British Parliament.
The annual meeting is hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which considers itself a sort of parliament in exile but is dominated by the MEK. NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi spoke before Giuliani, and said recent economic protests in Iran were signs the regime is near to collapse. The NCRI says it supports a democratic Iran with separation of religion and state.
Giuliani has spoken at MEK events for almost a decade. Trump’s current National Security Adviser John Bolton has attended their events in the past, as has James Jones, who held the same post under Obama.
A Christian Science Monitor investigation in 2011 said the group pays more than $25,000 to its speakers. The MEK denies paying the speakers, saying it only covers expenses, and that officials like Giuliani support the group because they share its vision.
The MEK was formed in the 1960s and opposed both the Shah’s regime and the Islamic Republic after the 1979 revolution. Studies by both the French Foreign Ministry and the Rand Corporation have concluded that the group lost almost all its support in Iran after siding with Iraq in the brutal 1980-1988 war, although Saturday’s meeting included recent footage of protesters unveiling MEK banners across Iran.
The group is based in a heavily guarded compound in a Paris suburb, with its former military wing now in Albania after the U.S. brokered its move from bases it had occupied in Iraq since the Iran-Iraq war. Attendees at the Paris rally were mostly from the Persian diaspora in Germany, France, the U.K. and the Netherlands.
The U.S. listed MEK as a terrorist organization in 1997 because of its history of bombings and assassinations. The group renounced violence in 2001 and began an energetic public relations campaign that resulted in it being delisted by the European Union in 2009 and the U.S. in 2012.
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