A bipartisan collection of key U.S. lawmakers, including the Republican leader in the House and the Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be among those addressing a major online gathering this weekend of Iranian dissident exiles fiercely opposed to the theocratic regime in Tehran.
Organizers of the three-day “Free Iran World Summit 2021” released a list of speakers that serves as a gauge for the support opponents of the Iranian regime have on Capitol Hill, even as President Biden’s administration seeks to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that was repudiated by President Trump three years later.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, and Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are among those that organizers say will address the gathering.
They will be joined by Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, as well as GOP Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and John Cornyn of Texas.
The list spans the political spectrum on the Hill: Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican and among the most conservative GOP senators, and fellow Texan Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, one of the House’s most liberal Democrats, are among those listed to speak.
The summit, being organized by major Iranian dissident exile organizations in the U.S. and Europe, bills itself “the largest-ever online international event dedicated to liberating Iran from its oppressive religious dictatorship and paving the way for a free, democratic and sovereign future.”
Organizers say they hope the show of online force, orchestrated by the umbrella National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its associate group the exiled People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), will shake the regime of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and inspire uprisings inside Iran. An NCRI spokesperson said organizers anticipate supporters from some 50,000 locations around the world will participate.
“Iranian society is a powder keg on the verge of explosion,” acting NCRI President Maryam Rajavi told The Washington Times in an email interview earlier this week. “More ferocious and extensive uprisings are waiting to erupt at a moment’s notice.”
The congressional roster addressing the online event illustrates the political headwinds Mr. Biden faces in negotiating directly with Iran. Like the 2015 accord negotiated by the Obama administration, any new nuclear deal which could emerge soon from talks between Iran and world powers in Geneva will almost certainly not be submitted to Congress as a formal treaty because of the bipartisan skepticism over dealing with Iran.
• Guy Taylor contributed to this report.
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