INTERNATIONAL LIBERTY ASSOCIATION (ILA)
Saturday 23rd NOVEMBER, 2019
EUROPE MUST OPEN A NEW CHAPTER ON IRAN
It is always a pleasure to address the International Liberty Association and can I begin by thanking you for your great work in fund-raising to aid the fight against human rights abuse and to support our dear Ashrafi friends who are now in Albania.
Nationwide protests are raging in Iran, with millions of demonstrators in more than 133 cities demanding the downfall of the theocratic fascist regime. So far it is known that at least 250 people have been killed and over 3,700 injured. There have been more than 7,000 arrests. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has ordered the regime’s Gestapo - the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), to open fire on unarmed civilians in a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Most of the dead have been shot in the head or chest.
The former Foreign Minister from Spain, Josep Borrell, will shortly take on the role of High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy in the EU. He faces a Herculean task, particularly in the Middle East, where popular uprisings are currently raging not only in Iran, but also in Iraq and Lebanon. President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has created a policy vacuum, which the EU is finding difficult to fill. Borrell will replace Federica Mogherini, the Italian Socialist, who was a slavish appeaser of the fascist theocratic regime in Iran. She was a regular visitor to Tehran where she would wear the veil in submission to the mullahs’ misogyny and pose for selfies with the turbaned tyrants. She was also an arch critic of the US administration’s re-imposition of tough sanctions on Iran. But her role as High Representative has thankfully come to an end.
When Josep Borrell begins to sift through the bulging in-tray on his desk in the Berlaymont Building, the European Commission’s HQ in Brussels, he will be staggered by the pressing items currently confronting the EU in the Middle East. After 8 blood-soaked years in Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s civil war lurches on, backed by the Iranian regime to the tune of over $20 billion and an estimated 2,500 Iranian fatal military casualties so far. The Houthi rebels continue to foment unrest in Yemen, fighting a proxy war on behalf of their Iranian sponsors.
The Iranian mullahs fund and control the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq who have murdered thousands of innocent Sunnis. They provide massive financial support for the terrorist Hezbollah organisation in Lebanon and for Hamas in Gaza. Every dollar spent in pursuit of their policy of aggressive Islamic revolutionary expansionism is a dollar stolen from the 80 million beleaguered Iranian citizens who are facing, domestically, a collapsing economy, disintegrating medical system, rapidly diminishing ground water and an environmental crisis.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which controls almost all of the Iranian economy, brutally crushes anyone who stands in its way. General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the powerful paramilitary organization’s overseas arm – the Quds Force, supervises Iran’s direct involvement in every conflict. General Soleimani has been sent to Baghdad to quell the Iraqi protests. He has already boasted publicly that “In Iran we know how to deal with protesters.” Masked gunmen from the Tehran controlled Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), deployed by Soleimani, have killed over 270 of the unarmed Iraqi protesters. In each of these conflicts Vladimir Putin has seized his chance to extend Russia’s influence.
Josep Borrell needs to open a new chapter on EU policy in the Middle East. He must accept that appeasement has failed. Europe’s desperation to placate the Iranian mullahs arose directly from the ashes of the Obama administration’s policy. But Iran’s increasing hostility in recent weeks, with their explosive stealth attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and missile strikes on Saudi oil installations, proves that they are not prepared to abandon their belligerent behaviour. Borrell must persuade the EU to give up trying to revive Obama’s flawed deal, which never stopped the mullah’s clandestine attempts to build a nuclear weapon and indeed simply released $150 billion of frozen assets that the regime rapidly used to sponsor their policy of aggressive expansion and international terror.
It was shameful to see the EU placing more emphasis on trade and commerce than on human rights. The people of Iran expect Europe and the UN to be on their side. They expect their calls for democracy to be taken seriously. Human rights and women’s rights cannot be compromised or marginalized on the pretext of political considerations, trade deals or the flawed nuclear agreement. Obama’s appeasement policy, lamely followed by the EU, is dead in the water.
Opponents of the theocratic fascist Iranian regime inside Iran are regularly imprisoned, tortured and hanged, often in public.
An estimated 100,000 political prisoners have been murdered since the Ayatollahs seized control of Iran in 1979. Since President Rouhani took office in 2013, over 4,000 people have been executed, including many women and even a number of teenagers. The UN is currently investigating how the regime executed over 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. Amnesty International published a 94-page report entitled “Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack.” It detailed 45 specific instances of what the organization described as a “vicious crackdown” coinciding with the supposedly ‘moderate’ presidency of Hassan Rouhani.
There are trained Iranian Ministry of Intelligence & Security (MOIS) agents implanted in every European embassy. Their job is to track down and eliminate political dissidents or enemies of the fundamentalist regime. Borrell will be aware that on 30th June last year German police arrested Assadollah Assadi, a diplomat from the Iranian Embassy in Vienna and charged him with terrorist offences. On the same day Belgian police arrested an Iranian couple from Antwerp after 500 gm of high explosives and a detonator were found in their car. They admitted Assadi had given them the bomb and instructed them to detonate it at the Iranian democratic opposition rally being held in Villepinte, near Paris that weekend, attended by prominent international speakers like Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The arrested MOIS agents are awaiting trial in Belgium. Borrell must surely realize that the EU cannot continue to tolerate a regime that has defiled the whole concept of diplomacy.
We also know that the MOIS has mounted a vicious campaign against our 2,500 Ashrafi friends who are in Albania. In December last year the Albanian police uncovered a plot to assassinate some of the Ashrafis in Tirana. Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama expelled the Iranian ambassador and first secretary. But Iranian agents working for the MOIS have pretended to be defectors from Ashraf III, the remarkable new camp built by the Ashrafis in the Albanian countryside. These agents have duped reporters from the BBC and other gullible journalists into publishing ludicrous and defamatory articles about them. A recent report by BBC World News contained interviews with local Albanian villagers, politicians and others who praised the Ashrafis for providing free medical services and spectacles to hundreds of villagers and for providing them with employment in Camp Ashraf III. But when this radio piece was recycled for the BBC Persian Service, all of the positive comments had been cut and only the slanderous rubbish from the MOIS agents had been left in. It was an outrageous act of appeasement to the mullahs by the BBC and a betrayal of the democratic opposition movement.
These things have not only happened in Europe. In the US, Iranian agents were convicted of mounting a surveillance operation aimed at identifying and assassinating leading anti-regime dissidents. Yet despite clear evidence that Iranian embassies are now used as terror cells and bomb factories, the EU has continued to search for ways of doing business with Iran. Germany, France and the Netherlands still do significant trade with the theocratic regime, despite America’s tough new sanctions.
In Iran, more than half the population of 80 million is under 30. Around a quarter of young people are jobless, more in some harder-hit regions. The Iranians are among the most pro-Western people in the Middle East. Yet they are ruled by a clique of elderly, bearded, deeply corrupt mullahs, who have drained the country’s rich oil resources to featherbed their own lavish lifestyles and to fund their revolutionary expansionism and proxy wars. This is why millions of people have taken to the streets inside Iran, but also in Iraq and Lebanon, demanding an end to Iranian meddling in the Middle East and an end to corruption and oppression.
As Europe’s new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Josep Borrell musttell the people of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, that they have EU support and that the people of Europe stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their struggle to overthrow the tyrants.