Biden Iran Envoy on Ropes After Pro-Regime Comments

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

Biden administration’s Iran envoy Robert Malley/Getty Images

Adam Kredo • 2022 October 25 4:30 p.m

Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s Iran envoy, is under increasing pressure to resign 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 killed a young woman who was wearing the wrong headscarf, quickly turned into a referendum on the Iranian regime itself. But Malley, who has been the administration’s public face for diplomacy with Tehran, claimed the protesters are only demonstrating “for their government to respect their dignity and human rights” – even as evidence mounts, they are protesting to end an oppressive regime.

The Biden administration is still scrapping economic sanctions on the Iranian regime in an effort to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, even as prospects for a deal are fading. The effort has also forced the administration to walk a diplomatic tightrope as it offers little support to protesters so as not to isolate the hardline government from negotiations. After Malley’s online outcry, the State Department declined to respond Washington Free Lighthouse questions whether she appreciates that Iranian protesters are seeking regime change, even as those protesters chant “Death to the dictator” and make it clear that they want the theocratic government dismantled.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a leading critic in Congress of the new Iran deal, said Free lighthouse that “the Biden administration is literally invested in the survival of the Iranian regime because the administration wants Iranian oil to compensate for the disaster they caused by attacking American energy producers. That’s why they can’t get the Iranian people to support regime change.”

“Robert Malley will go down in the history books as the most ineffective and reckless 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. , told Free lighthouse. “His latest rant on Twitter is just another example of how he has aligned the United States government with the Islamic Republic rather than the freedom-seeking people of Iran. His bogus apology is unacceptable and should be stopped immediately.”

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

“It’s a revolution,” the Iran expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies responded to Malley’s tweet.

— Respect? asked popular Iranian commentator Saman Arabi. “Iranian [people] literally begging for a mode 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 trust in Iran’s reformers is in tatters.

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

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

“It’s not up to us to figure out what the Iranian people are asking for,” Price said. “We would never describe what they’re after.”

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

“I’m not going to speak for the Iranian people,” Price replied.

Journalist Matthew Lee of the Associated Press continued his line of questioning: “Well, let’s say if I’m walking down the street with a sign that says oranges are bad, well — oranges, fruit, oranges are bad; they should be banned – what would you say to my message?

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

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


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