Ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton and former Sen. Joe Lieberman expressed strong support on Thursday for ongoing protests against the Iranian government, saying the women-led uprising was “very close” to ushering in regime change.
“The events of the past year have really demonstrated that we’ve crossed a line, and the people of Iran are not going to go back,” said the ex-Trump adviser Bolton at a Senate briefing, referring to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last fall that sparked nationwide protests against the Islamic Republic.
“We’ve seen the enormous economic dissatisfaction with the rule of the Ayatollahs,” Bolton, 74, added.
“And now we see, after the murder of Mahsa Amini, a direct ideological assault on the legitimacy of the regime itself.”
“Everyone has a mother, they have sisters, they have wives, they have daughters, and they are hearing every day and every night what the women of Iran believe,” he said.
“We are very close to winning.”
Lieberman, 81, echoed Bolton’s comments, saying the “broadest ever uprising against the government” was “closer than ever” to bringing about “the liberation of the people of Iran from the tyranny they have lived under.”
The remarks come as a bipartisan House majority and 47 US senators have already signed on to resolutions that back the protests aimed at toppling the Tehran government.
The House resolution is modeled after opposition leader Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan for Iran, which would replace the dictatorial power with a secular, democratic state.
The Sept. 16 killing of Amini, a Kurdish woman who broke strict hijab rules and later died while in the custody of the Islamic Republic’s so-called “morality police,” has supercharged the effort to overthrow the rule of the mullahs and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The congressional resolutions condemn the Iranian government for having imprisoned tens of thousands of citizens, and the Senate resolution further pressures the Biden administration to respond with sanctions.
Since Amini’s death, the Islamic Republic has killed more than 500 Iranians. Almost 100 of those were women and children.
“Thousands, tens of thousands have been arrested, hundreds have been killed, but they’re still out there doing it,” Bolton said. “And it’s that force of opinion that will bring the ayatollahs down and give us the regime change we need.”
Bolton and Lieberman also pushed President Biden to formally renounce efforts to revamp the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and end nuclear talks once and for all with Iran.
“It’s about time the US government declared the JCPOA is dead. It’s over,” Lieberman said, repeating calls for Biden to enact harsher sanctions.
“It is an illusion, and has been from the outset, that they would ever enter into an agreement that would constrict their ability to develop nuclear weapons,” Bolton said. “They can promise a lot. They’re pretty good at that. But they had no intention of carrying through on those promises.”
“The Nuclear deal was fatally flawed from the start,” he added. “The deal itself helped ensure their path toward nuclear weapons.”
Biden has privately acknowledged the nuclear deal is “dead,” but his administration has yet to formally announce its policy stance.
A bipartisan group of senators also expressed their support at the lunchtime briefing, including Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Cory Booker (NJ), who sit on the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Republican Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) — all of whom advocated for a free and democratic Iran.
Obama-era National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones and former US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Paula Dobriansky also addressed the briefing, which was hosted by the Organization of Iranian American Communities.
“This cause is not simply about toppling the current oppressive regime ruling Iran. It is a struggle against all forms of dictatorship, including former rulers,” Jones said. “As the brave protesters of Iran protest every day on the streets of Iran, we are reminded that the Iranian people yearn for a democratic and secular republic.”
Dobriansky especially drew attention to poisoning attacks against Iranian students, which she said have revealed the clerical regime is losing its grip.
“Those brave souls are still on the streets,” she said. “They’re chanting, ‘Woman, Life, Freedom.’ A freedom revolution is indeed underway.”
The shift, Bolton added, would bring about what “Abraham Lincoln called for in the United States.”
“A government of the people, by the people and for the people — and I think today we are closer to that point than we’ve ever been,” he said.