WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly told a group of Iranian American community leaders the U.S. is not seeking a regime change in Iran through direct military intervention.
Pompeo met with 15 leaders last Monday at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel, according to Axios, citing three sources who were in the room, one of whom took detailed notes. During the meeting, Pompeo reportedly was asked, "If regime change does not occur internally what is the endgame?"
In response, according to the site, Pompeo responded that the administration is "careful not to use the language of regime change” and that the Trump administration does not plan to intervene militarily in Iran. When asked if the administration had considered the possibility of a coup, Pompeo quipped that he would not tell the attendees even if it had, prompting laughter, according to the article.
Beyond ruling out military intervention, Pompeo was vague about the administration’s plans regarding Iran.
He reportedly said that "our best interest is a non-revolutionary set of leaders leading Iran,” according to notes viewed by Axios, and that the Trump administration would have handled the 2009 "Green Movement,” differently from the Obama administration, but he did not detail how.
Pompeo also reportedly told the group that "there are no guarantees” U.S. sanctions would not hurt the people of Iran.
The secretary of State was also reportedly grilled about Trump associates’ connections to the MKO, which was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. until 2012. Several attendees asked Pompeo about the relationship between national security adviser John Bolton and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and MEK, according to Axios.
"Ambassador Bolton spoke at an MEK rally. President Trump and I have not,” Pompeo responded, according to notes viewed by Axios.
Reuters: U.S. Backtracks on IRGC Designation
The United States has largely carved out exceptions so that foreign governments, firms and NGOs do not automatically face U.S. sanctions for dealing with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) after the group’s designation by Washington as a foreign terrorist group, according to three current and three former U.S. officials cited by Reuters.
The exemptions, granted by Pompeo and described by a State Department spokesman in response to questions from Reuters, mean officials from countries such as Iraq who may have dealings with the IRGC would not necessarily be denied U.S. visas.
The exceptions to U.S. sanctions would also permit foreign executives who do business in Iran, where the IRGC is a major economic force, as well as humanitarian groups working in regions such as northern Syria, Iraq and Yemen, to do so without fear they will automatically trigger U.S. laws on dealing with a foreign terrorist group.
American officials have long said they fear the designation could endanger U.S. forces in places such as Syria or Iraq, where they may operate in close proximity to IRGC-allied groups.
The State Department’s Near Eastern and South and Central Asian bureaus, wrote a rare joint memo to Pompeo before the designation expressing concerns about its potential impact, but were overruled, two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity.
The action was also taken over the objections of the Defense and Homeland Security Departments, a congressional aide said.
"Simply engaging in conversations with IRGC officials generally does not constitute terrorist activity,” the State Department spokesman said when asked what repercussions U.S.-allied countries could face if they had contact with the IRGC.