The deliberate poisoning of schoolgirls and students with poison gas has continued in Iran, as the theocratic regime attempts to crush the nationwide uprising, largely led by women. Dozens of schoolgirls in towns and cities throughout Iran have been hospitalized, displaying symptoms of anxiety, breathlessness, and headaches. Two girls have died. The mullahs have targeted primary and secondary girls’ schools to teach them a lesson for participating in the insurrection which is now into its seventh month. More than 750, mostly young protesters, have been shot dead and over 30,000 have been arrested. So far 4 young men have been executed for taking part in the protests and hundreds more have been sentenced to death.

Undeterred by international condemnation, the regime has doubled down on oppressive measures, installing CCTVs in shopping malls and public squares to help trace and prosecute women and girls who fail to wear the hijab. The judiciary’s Mizan news agency and other state-controlled media reported that once identified, violators of the hijab law would receive “warning text messages as to the consequences” from the police, followed by arrest and trial for second offences. The reports claimed that the new measures were aimed at “preventing resistance against the hijab law,” in a bid to block women from tarnishing the Islamic Republic’s spiritual image. Under Iran's draconian religious laws, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are forced to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes, to disguise their figures. The authorities have made public statements urging citizens to confront unveiled women, encouraging hardliners in the past to throw acid in the face of offenders, scarring them for life and often blinding them. Such attacks were never prosecuted. More recently, a video of a man throwing a large bucket of yoghurt at two unveiled women in a shop, went viral.

Despite this, tens of thousands of women and girls have bravely ditched their veils in defiance of the authorities. For women to reveal their hair is regarded as a criminal offence under the mullahs’ distorted and misogynistic version of Islam. The elderly and increasingly delusional supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has even ordered that female cartoon characters must always be fully veiled. Nevertheless, thousands of images of unveiled women are spreading daily on social media, enraging the fascist clerics and their ]Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) flunkies.

Apparently revelling in their pariah status, the Iranian regime has even violated all international standards in humanitarian behaviour. Exploiting the tragedy of the earthquake that killed over 6,000 Syrian and 45,000 Turkish men, women and children and left millions homeless and without access to food or water, the mullahs began to use so-called ‘relief flights’ to ferry arms and military equipment into Syria to bolster their close ally Bashar al-Assad. Israeli intelligence noted that following the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on 6th February, hundreds of flights from Iran began pouring into Syria’s Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia airports, pretending to be ferrying aid to the quake victims. Instead, the regime’s planes were loaded with spare parts for Syria’s Iran-built air defence network, together with advanced communications equipment and radar batteries, all of which have been extensively deployed during the on-going civil war. 

According to Israeli intelligence sources, the flights were organized by the Quds Force, the extra-territorial wing of the IRGC, blacklisted in the west as international terrorists. Iranian officials have denied these reports, but Israel moved quickly to target the sanction-busting flights, using warplanes in late March to fire missiles at the runway at Aleppo’s airport, putting it out of action shortly after two Iranian cargo planes, loaded with military equipment landed. It was the second Israeli airstrike at the airport in March. Under UN humanitarian-relief strategies, planes carrying aid can seek permission to land from local authorities in the affected zones and are exempted from sanctions. The Syrian authorities granted special permission to flights from Russia and Iran, raising concern in Israel.

The Israelis are right to be worried. Quite apart from arming and assisting Israel’s sworn enemies in the Middle East, Iran now boasts that it has enriched 70 kilograms of uranium to 60% purity, only a fraction short of weapons’ grade, and 1,000 kilograms to 20% purity. It is accelerating its development of a nuclear weapon and ballistic missile delivery systems, with the often-stated intention of wiping Israel off the map. The Israelis have successfully eliminated several of the Iranian regime’s top atomic scientists but fear the threat of a nuclear strike is growing almost daily. Israel’s hard-line prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, will not tolerate the idea of a nuclear armed Iran and without active intervention from the West, may take unilateral action to destroy the mullahs’ top-secret, underground nuclear bunkers, triggering regional and perhaps international conflict.

Meanwhile the West continues to dither and dawdle over Iran. It seems that no amount of provocation can stimulate a robust response. Under Joe Biden, the Americans diligently pursued the reinstatement of the defective Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran, notwithstanding abundant intelligence that the mullahs were using the deal as a cover for creating a nuclear weapon. Iranian insistence on the lifting of all sanctions to re-boot their collapsing economy, together with their supply of kamikaze drones to Vladimir Putin for use in his illegal war in Ukraine, put paid to further negotiations. In any case, America’s focus is increasingly on China and Russia and their interest in the Middle East has waned.

The EU and UK also need to ditch their appeasement policy towards the mullahs and reinforce sanctions, recall ambassadors, and show outright support for the 85 million Iranian people who are demanding regime change. Only the removal of the current regime and its replacement with a democratically elected government offering freedom, peace, justice and an end to the nuclear threat, can resolve the growing menace to regional and world security posed by the theocratic, fascist mullahs. The burgeoning Resistance Units of the main opposition movement, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), who have courageously directed the nationwide uprising, offer the only real hope for the future.