As the 70th U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo wore the mantle that once adorned Thomas Jefferson, American Founding Father and first secretary of state, who went on to be president. When Mike Pompeo paid a ground-breaking visit to Ashraf 3, headquarters of the main democratic Iranian opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), he may have remembered one of Jefferson’s most famous quotes: “When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.” Pompeo spent 5 hours in Ashraf 3 last week, home to thousands of PMOI/MEK members in Manëz in Albania, where he met their leader Mrs Maryam Rajavi. It was a momentous visit which will have sent shockwaves through the tyrannical theocratic regime in Iran.

Pompeo denounced Barack Obama’s deeply flawed nuclear deal with the Iranian regime. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal was signed by Obama in 2015 and torn up by Trump and Pompeo in 2018, when the U.S. unilaterally withdrew. Pompeo famously said at the time the JCPOA was implemented: “The nuclear deal with Iran’s radical clerics and their military junta is the most dangerous and potentially deadly action that the Obama administration has yet taken.” He went on to point out: “As a result of the billions of dollars flowing into Iran after the JCPOA, the Iranian regime is able to increase its support to terrorist groups like Hezbollah.” 

The Trump administration took an aggressively and justifiably hard-line against the mullahs’ regime, implementing the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign of comprehensive economic sanctions and ordering the drone strike that killed the terrorist Godfather Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad Airport on. 2nd January 2020. Pompeo’s visit to Ashraf 3 came against the background of ongoing negotiations in Vienna, where the Biden administration is desperately seeking ways to resurrect the JCPOA, while lifting sanctions against the regime led by the sociopathic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

During his visit to Ashraf 3 last week secretary Pompeo told Mrs Rajavi that: “A serious missing factor in U.S. policy towards Iran has been the lack of political support for the organized opposition.” Secretary Pompeo said: “The regime in Tehran went to the extreme to massacre 30,000 political prisoners, whose main targets and a majority of victims, were the MEK. The threat of attack extends far beyond Iran’s borders, with the regime having waged terror plots in Europe and the U.S. against the leaders of this movement. Now, to correct the Iran policy, no matter who is in the White House, it is a necessity for the U.S. administration to reach out to the Iranian Resistance and take advantage of its tremendous capabilities. Ashraf 3 is one such place to focus on.” The former secretary of state was keen to point to the role of the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in the 1988 massacre, which is now the subject of a UN investigation. He said: “Ebrahim Raisi, the butcher who orchestrated the 1988 massacre, is now President. The regime is clearly at its weakest point in decades. Raisi has already failed. He has failed to crush uprisings in Iran or break the noble spirit of dissent within the Iranian people.”

Mrs Rajavi took Mike Pompeo on a tour of Ashraf 3, including the recently opened Museum of 120 Years of Struggle for Freedom in Iran, built by the 3,000 PMOI/MEK members. They were welcomed by the Albanian prime minister in 2014 after being rescued from Camp Liberty in Iraq, where they were under constant lethal attack by the government of Nouri al-Maliki, a puppet of the Iranian regime’s mullahs, who threatened to annihilate the PMOI/MEK in Iraq. Albania stepped into the breach, agreeing to allow all 3,000 Iranians to settle in their country. They were initially housed in apartment blocks in Tirana. The Iranian dissidents were then allowed to purchase farmland at Manëz near the port of Durres, where they have built an entire modern, self-contained township, including the beautiful Fatima Az-Zahra Mosque, named after the revered daughter of the Prophet of Islam.

Albania’s courage in rescuing the PMOI/MEK refugees from Iraq, caused a predictable backlash of fury from Tehran. The mullahs’ regime immediately began to beef up its embassy in Tirana, deploying dozens of diplomats with the key intention of targeting the PMOI/MEK. In December 2019, the Iranian ambassador to Albania and his first secretary, were expelled by Edi Rama, Albania’s prime minister, and declared persona non grata for “activities in breach of their diplomatic status and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” They had been involved in a plot to attack the Iranian refugees in Ashraf 3. It was the second time a plot involving Iranian agents in Albania had been exposed. In March 2018, Albanian police foiled a planned bomb attack on the exiled PMOI/MEK dissidents who were attending a Nowruz or New Year gathering in Tirana.

Mike Pompeo’s visit will have caused similar outrage in Tehran. In his speech in Ashraf 3, he underlined his outright backing for the PMOI/MEK saying: “I’d also like to recognize President-elect Maryam Rajavi.  Under her leadership, the National Council of Resistance of Iran is laying the groundwork for a free, sovereign, and democratic republic in Iran. We must continue to support the Iranian people as they fight for a freer and more democratic Iran in any way we can.”

Secretary Pompeo’s visit coincided with nationwide protests that have continued for weeks in towns and cities across Iran, with thousands taking to the streets to demand regime change and democracy. Mrs Rajavi told Secretary Pompeo: “By glancing at the objective conditions and the successive eruption of uprisings in Iran today, one can see that regime change is on the horizon. The people of Iran have already decided to engage in the final confrontation with the regime. Today, we warn again that one should not delay. We say that we can and must free Iran, the Middle East, and the world of the evil of the nuclear mullahs.”