Vice President Mike Pence offered his assurance this week that President Donald Trump’s administration will be a reliable ally for Iranian protesters currently engaged in the nation’s most significant uprising against the government in nearly a decade.
“President Trump’s unapologetic willingness to stand with the courageous people of Iran, I know, is giving hope to the people on the streets of the cities of that country,” he said. “And we’re going to continue to support them not just verbally as they bring about change in their country.”
His comments came after days of protests across Iran and multiple Trump tweets expressing support for the anti-government demonstrators.
Pence told Voice of America that the approach will stand in contrast to what he described as a dearth of support for demonstrators under the Obama administration.
He did not provide many specifics regarding actions the U.S. is considering in support of the protesters, though he acknowledged that there is “an extraordinary amount” that can be done “for the people of Iran if they continue to stand up for their own freedom.”
Expanded economic sanctions against the Iranian government could be on the table.
“This president and this administration are absolutely committed to continue to bring the full economic weight of the United States and these economic sanctions to bear on Iran,” Pence said.
Following about a week of deadly protests across Iran, he said demonstrators are again looking to America for the leadership he alleged they did not receive when they took to the streets early on in Obama’s first term.
“I remember back in 2009 seeing this largely youth-driven movement following a fraudulent election in Iran, people taking to the streets demonstrating incredible courage that the people of Iran did to claim a democratic and free future,” he said.
When those protesters sought U.S. support and leadership, Pence said “they found none” in Obama.
“There was deafening silence from the Obama administration,” he said.
Silence, however, is exactly what is still being prescribed by a number of officials and diplomats who served under Obama.
In that article, former Department of State official Philip Gordon argued that vocal support from the U.S. could allow the Iranian government to paint “protesters as American lackeys, giving the security services more of a pretext to crack down violently.”
Pence, however, said the Trump administration is counting on an alliance with the U.S. to spark widespread reform in Iran. He used the fall of the Soviet Union as a comparison to the anticipated outcome of the current situation.
“Just as the dissidents in the old Soviet Union heard of Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire speech and were encouraged to know that they were not alone, my hope is that the people who are taking to the streets in Iran know that under President Donald Trump they are not alone, that the American people stand with them,” he said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.