A committee of former UK cabinet ministers, senior policy advisers and diplomats has published a report calling on Britain to distance itself from US foreign policy, while insisting on the introduction of a whole set of soft options for Iran. The committee, chaired by Lord Howell, the former Minister of State in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office under David Cameron, was sharply critical of President Donald Trump, calling him “mercurial and unpredictable”. The committee suggested a new UK Middle East strategy that would involve easing banking regulations to enable new sources of finance to be opened up for Tehran, while blocking efforts by the Trump administration to tear up the existing nuclear deal. 

The report bears all the hallmarks of the Iran lobby, the sophisticated pro-Iranian regime supplicants who were behind 8 years of hand-wringing appeasement by the Obama administration, which led ultimately to the deeply flawed nuclear agreement. The Iran lobby are simultaneously pro-Iran and anti-Saudi Arabia and the committee’s report predictably goes on to demand a suspension of arms sales to the Saudis and calls on the UK government to “improve transparency and accountability about its relationship with repressive regimes in the Gulf.”Echoes of this policy have even appeared in the Labour Party’s manifesto for the general election.

There is no hint in the report, however, that the most repressive regime in the Gulf is in fact Iran. More than 3,000 people have been executed since the ‘so-called’ moderate Hassan Rouhani took office as president in 2013, making Iran the number one state-executioner in the world per capita. The presidential elections in Iran later this week will pitch Rouhani against the arch-hardlinerAyatollah Ebrahim Raisi, a key member of the ‘Death Commission’ who in 1988 ordered the execution of over 30,000 political prisoners. So the people of Iran are being provided with the choice between a charlatan and an executioner. 

The Iranian election is a sham and a scandal. Over one thousand people registered as potential candidates, only to be disqualified by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Those disqualified from standing even included former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who although considered a fanatical tyrant by the West, was clearly thought to be too soft to face the new muscular approach from the US administration.

Iranian violence and repression is not restricted to its homeland. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently accused Iran of being "a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods." The Americans are particularly concerned about the activities of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps(IRGC) and their extra-territorial wing the Quds Force, who are engaged in every conflict in the Middle East. Iran has mobilized over 70,000 IRGC troops to prop up Assad’s blood-soaked regime in Syria, dragging the conflict into its seventh year and resulting in the death of over 400,000 people and the greatest refugee crisis this century.

Tehran has also invested heavily in the Yemeni conflict, providing funding, training and advanced weaponry to the Houthi rebels, while using the Iran lobby to convince the West that they should stay clear of Yemen, even while the Houthis plant mines in the Red Sea, fire ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia and attack US Naval and commercial ships with shore-to-ship guided missiles. No mention is made by the pro-Iran lobby of the massive humanitarian aid programme that the Saudi-led coalition has provided to Yemen and its refugees; the Saudis alone have taken in more than 500,000 refugees from Yemen and given almost half a billion dollars in direct aid.

Iranian-led and funded Shi'ia militias have also waged a genocidal campaign in Iraq where the mullahs have exploited their role in ousting Daesh (ISIS) as a means for implementing a ruthless policy of ethnic cleansing to annihilate the Sunnis in al-Anbar Province. Horrific sectarian atrocities have been committed during the so-called ‘liberation’ of the ancient cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The same Shi'ia militias are now engaged in the battle to recapture Mosul.

Far from listening to the biased and slanted advice of Lord Howell and his committee, the UK and EU would be better aligning themselves with the new US administration’s hard-line policy on Iran, which recognizes the theocratic regime as the main sponsor of terror in the Middle East. Ending the policy of appeasement and confronting the Iranian regime and its lobbyists must be the West’s new tactical strategy.