On Saturday 13 july 2019, a large crowd gathered in Ashraf 3, Albania, home to Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), to hold the annual Free Iran rally of the Iranian resistance. The event was the fourth installment in a series of events held at Ashraf 3. Gen George Casey Former Chief of Staff of the US Army gave a speech in this gathering.
Gen George Casey: Good evening everybody, Madame Rajavi, President Berisha, nice to see you again. Distinguished guests, Ashrafis, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be here with you tonight celebrating with you the obvious pride you see in what you’ve accomplished here in the last 20 months. Congratulations on what you’ve done.
As I was preparing my remarks and thinking about what I was going to say today, I was reminded it was just about a year ago when our Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked what it was the U.S. wanted from Iran. And he said at that time, “We want them to behave like a normal country.” And so I’m always surprised when I hear the Iranians say that our demands are unattainable.
But what are we asking of the Iranian regime? We’re asking them to stop shooting at our troops in our bases in Iraq. We’re asking them to stop lobbing missiles at international airports and at oil pipelines. We’re asking them to stop attacking tankers transiting the Strait or Hormuz. We’re asking them to stop attacking aircraft flying in international airspace. We’re asking them to stop being the world’s greatest state sponsor of terror. And we’re asking them to stop their quest for acquiring nuclear weapons. Now to me those don’t sound like terrible demands.
In fact, those demands would not be made of someone who was behaving as normal countries function in the international community. Yet over the last year, Iran’s malign activities have only been increasing and they’ve been driving up tensions across the Middle East in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Iraq, and across the Persian Gulf. Iran’s behavior is not normal behavior, it’s terrorist behavior. And no government that actively supports terror can be a productive player in our world today.
So, as has been said many times already today, it’s time. Change must come to Iran. I’m also surprised when Iran continuously denies their destabilizing activities. And when they do that they create ambiguity and hesitancy in the international community. But many of us in the U.S. military we have on the ground firsthand experience with Iran, as all these gentlemen know from their time in Iraq. And we know and we have seen firsthand that Iran purposely uses terror and subversion to accomplish their political and ideological objectives. And so we know when we’re denying their activities they’re just not telling the truth.
As a coalition commander, I saw them use terror to foment the sectarian violence that tore Iraq apart in 2006 and 2007 and continues to this day. I saw them train and equip the Iraqi militias that inflicted significant violence on the coalition troops and on the Iraqi people. I hold Iran personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of coalition soldiers and thousands of Iraqis.
I should also mention that in addition to what they did with terror they frustrated Iraqi efforts to establish a representative democracy that included all Iraqis, much as they are doing in Iran denying the democratic yearnings of the Iranian people. So, the Iran regime is a challenge not only for the Iranian people, it’s a challenge for the international community. And change must come to Iran.
Gen George Casey ended his speech saying: Let me just close by a couple of remarks directed at the residents of Camp Ashraf 3, the Ashrafis. What you have built here is a tribute to your courage. It’s a tribute to your determination. And it’s a tribute to your 168 comrades who lost their lives during your journey here. It’s through your grit and your determination you have cemented, cemented both literally and figuratively, Ashraf 3 as the global center for democratic resistance to the Iranian regime. And because of you and what you’ve done, change will come to Iran. Thank you.