As a regime which for more than forty years has sponsored violent abduction, hostage taking, kidnapping, blackmail, piracy, assassination, warmongering and oppression, the Iranian dictatorship has no equal. They have ploughed men and resources into proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza. They have openly backed terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas and through the extra-territorial Quds Force wing of their Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), they have directed extremist operations throughout the Middle East and further afield, even sending registered diplomats on terror missions. Now they are supplying kamikaze drones to Russia for use in their illegal war in Ukraine. 

The great surprise is that many countries in the West continue to negotiate with this criminal regime, treating it as a bona fide nation state. It is time people realised the catastrophic war in Gaza is the direct result of years of Iranian policies of de-stabilization and meddling in the Middle East, rather than simply an escalation of age-old Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Any realistic hope of a resolution to the Israel-Palestine problem must surely include the downfall of the gangster regime in Tehran.

For too long the West has chosen to ignore the theocratic regime’s criminality, focusing instead on its nuclear threat, with America getting bogged down for years in fruitless negotiations over Obama’s doomed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.  Unilaterally abandoned in 2019 by Donald Trump, the JCPOA has been stubbornly pursued again by President Biden, despite clear evidence that the Iranian regime never adhered to the terms of the deal and clandestinely accelerated their production of a nuclear warhead. Undeterred by Western sanctions, the mullahs continued to pump billions into backing Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Their aggressive foreign policy and venal corruption has impoverished this once rich nation, destroying the middle class and leaving over 70 million people in abject poverty.

When Assadollah Assadi, a diplomat in the Iranian embassy in Vienna, was filmed handing over a professionally assembled 500 gm bomb to three Iranian co-conspirators, instructing them to detonate it at an Iranian democratic opposition rally in Paris in 2018, he was arrested and sentenced to 20 years jail in Belgium. The mullahs simply took a young Belgian charity worker hostage, sentenced him to 40 years jail, 70 lashes and a $1 million fine on trumped-up espionage charges, then negotiated a prisoner swap with the Belgian government, who shamefully capitulated. Assadi returned to a hero’s welcome in Tehran. 

EU political leaders warned that such a deal blatantly undermined European justice and provided the mullahs with impunity, encouraging further violent acts of terror. Their warnings, steadfastly ignored by the EU’s senior diplomat Josep Borrell, came to pass in horrific form with the attempted assassination of the former Vice President of the European Parliament – Alejo Vidal Quadras. On 9th November, a black-clad assassin shot the Spanish politician in the head in broad daylight, in the Salamanca district of Madrid, then fled on the back of a motor bike. Vidal Quadras, has been a long-time supporter of the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the National Council of resistance of Iran (NCRI) and had been absurdly listed as a ‘foreign terrorist’ by the Iranian regime in 2022. Fortunately, he survived the shooting and is recovering in hospital from a serious facial wound. The Spanish police have so far arrested three people, including an English woman, for alleged involvement in the botched assassination. The Iranian connection is being closely examined.

In a further intensification of anti-Israel aggression, Quds Force commandos, dropped from a helicopter, seized control of an Israeli-linked cargo vessel in the Red Sea last week, in a flagrant violation of international law. Claiming to be acting on behalf of the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, the commandos said the ship’s capture was in retaliation for Israel’s war against Hamas. The British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo vessel, ‘The Galaxy Leader’, and its crew of 25 nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania, has been taken to the Houthi-held Yemeni port of Hodeidah. The vessel is registered under a British company which is partially owned by Israeli businessman Abraham Ungar.

This kind of piracy by the Iranians is not new. In June 2019, limpet mines were abandoned by IRGC commandos following attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The oil tanker Kokuka Courageous was rocked by several explosions which caused extensive damage. An IRGC patrol boat was then filmed moving alongside the tanker as commandos removed an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of the vessel. In July 2019, Iran seized the British-flagged Stena Impero on the Strait of Hormuz. It was held in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas for two months and only released following international pressure. In January last year the IRGC seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Gulf waters, claiming they had detained the Hankuk Chemi tanker and its crew for allegedly dumping toxic chemicals in the Gulf, a blatantly false accusation. 

In May 2020, an IRGC speedboat armed with heavy machine guns, approached within 150 yards of US warships at high speed, as the Americans travelled through the Strait of Hormuz. Warning shots had to be fired at the IRGC vessel before it finally withdrew. Then in August 2021 a tanker, the Ashphalt Princess, was hijacked by IRGC commandos and ordered to “sail to Iran” – days after a lethal IRGC drone attack killed a British security guard working with special forces, and a Romanian soldier, on the oil tanker MV Mercer Street. 

The mullahs’ international gangsterism can no longer be tolerated. It is time for the EU and the UK to follow America’s example and blacklist the IRGC and its is time for Western nations to close Iran’s embassies and expel their diplomatic staff. Above all, it is time to show support for the beleaguered Iranian population and their legitimate opposition NCRI and MEK. The downfall of this pariah regime will herald a new dawn in the Middle East.