NEW YORK (AP) — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, addressing thousands of protesters near the United Nations on Wednesday, challenged President Barack Obama to take stronger action against Iran — and the threat of the Islamic nation becoming a nuclear power.
“If you’re going to support freedom in Libya, why not freedom in Iran?” Gingrich asked the crowd, which gathered as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the U.N. General Assembly. “If you’re going to support freedom in Egypt, why not freedom in Iran?”
Gingrich urged the U.S. government to help Iranians oust Ahmadinejad by bringing to bear “political, economic, informational and other pressure.”
However, he praised the Obama administration for its push last week to take the Iranian militant group MEK off the U.S. terrorist watchlist; Congress must approve the decision. The group is a major anti-Ahmadinejad force once allied with Saddam Hussein.
Throughout Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, protesters wore yellow vests with photos of people they say were massacred. One sign read: “Fallen for Freedom in Iran.” Native Syrians decried Iran’s support of their homeland’s regime.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the protesters that the Obama administration has “betrayed” the people of Iran.
“Where is Ronald Reagan when we need him?” he said.
Giuliani, who was a 2007 Republican presidential candidate, referenced a Democratic president he called “weak” — Jimmy Carter, under whose tenure Americans were held hostage in 1979.
He also said Iran “should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons,” and predicted that terrorists would use Iranian nuclear materials to stage attacks around the world.
“Tear down the murderous mullahs!” Giuliani yelled. “We need strong words, not weasel words.”