Thursday 30thJune 2016 – 11am – 12.30pm. 

Committee Room 6, Westminster Hall, House of Commons.

The Right Policy to Advance Human Rights and Democracy in Iran

First of all allow me to thank The Rt Hon. David Jones for his kind invitation to address today’s meeting and for his brilliant initiative in creating a new all-party committee to expose and counter what is happening in Iran and the Middle East. Can I also thank the officers of the all-party committee Dr Matthew Offord MP, Steve McCabe MP, Mark Williams MP and Lord Clarke. I would also like to congratulate the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom on their spectacular success in getting the support of over 400 MPs and Peers for the condemnation of Iran’s record of human rights abuse? Can I specifically mention in this regard Sir David Amess MP, Lord Carlile, Lord Alton and Lord Maginnis.

We are still spellbound by Iran. We are still pursuing the failed policy of appeasement of the mullahs. President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was pushed through to secure his footnote in history. He swept aside all warnings and fears and signed an agreement that effectively ended sanctions on the Iranian regime and released billions and billions of dollars of frozen assets, providing a windfall for a government that was teetering on the brink of economic collapse. The US Congress members, both Democrats and Republicans, took tough stances. Otherwise President Obama would have given many more concessions to the regime. 

But far from investing in its own people, the fascist mullah-led regime has used this money to re-double its spending on weapons and on exporting terror through the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Qods Force, both of which are listed terrorist organisations in the West and both of which are involved in almost every conflict in the Middle East.

The Iranian regime backs, finances and arms many of the sixty sectarian Shi’ite militias currently operating in Iraq. 

Iran claims to be an ally of the West in the fight against ISIS-Daesh, but in reality, the regime is exploiting the battle against the jihadists to implement its policy of ethic cleansing against the Sunni population, specially in al-Anbar Province in Iraq. Western policy in Iraq is aiding and abetting the slaughter of the innocents in cities like Fallujah. 

We seem to have learned no lessons from the fate of Ramadi, Tikrit and other Sunni cities which were ‘liberated’ from Daesh earlier this year, but the final onslaught during the battle for the recapture of Ramadi for example, saw virtually every building in the city destroyed; only a handful of women, children and elderly men remained.

Sectarian militias affiliated with the Iranian regime, under the command of the Iranian terrorist Quds force leader Qasem Soleimani are unilaterally leading the offensive and butchering innocent civilians, burning houses and mosques and beheading people in Fallujah. This is Iranian foreign policy in action. Once they have achieved their sectarian objectives in Fallujah, the Iranian-led militias will turn their attention to Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city with a population of more than two million Sunnis, where Daesh has been embedded since 2014. US coalition and Iraqi airstrikes have already begun around Mosul and it is certain that Daesh will be driven from their final enclave in Iraq within months. 

The defeat of Daesh in Mosul, the most emblematic of their strongholds in their two-year-old ‘caliphate’, will be a blow to the jihadists who have also faced relentless recent setbacks in Syria and Libya. But no-one should believe that the eventual collapse of Daesh in Iraq will herald a new dawn of peace and safety for the beleaguered Iraqi people. Such is the corrupt and decrepit state of Iraq’s crumbling political system that any vacuum created by the removal of Daesh may be quickly filled by new and menacing threats to security.

The invasion of Iraq and its consequences will be pored over in great detail by the long anticipated Chilcot Report to be published on 6thJuly. Chilcot will certainly lay the blame for the illegal invasion firmly on the shoulders of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, but the West’s mishandling of the aftermath of the invasion and the occupation of Iraq paints an equally sorry picture. The insurgency was as calamitous as it was inevitable. As quickly as the Americans and British won the war they contrived to lose the peace. The West’s cack-handed attempts at imposing democracy on occupied Iraq were catastrophic. 

The elected Council of Representatives was supposed to be the repository of power, but in fact it has become a toothless talking shop. The appointed government ministers systematically raided the public coffers to enrich themselves and finance huge private militias that they use to intimidate and coerce political rivals. They are the ones who seized real power in Iraq. 

Nouri al-Maliki is the Godfather of this gangster class of politicians and he was shoehorned into power as Iraq’s puppet Prime Minister at the insistence of the Iranian regime and with the meek acquiescence of the Americans. His venal corruption and genocidal policy of aggression against Iraq’s Sunni population catapulted the country into civil war and opened the door for the invasion of Daesh and their subsequent seizure of vast tracts of Iraqi territory. Maliki is still using the enormous wealth he accumulated during eight years in office to finance his own private army and to undermine his successor Haider al-Abadi. 

Such is the frustration and contempt of the Iraqi people with their political leaders that there have been massive demonstrations and even assaults on Baghdad’s Green Zone and Party headquarters and offices, forcing al-Abadi to replace many ministers with supposedly non-corrupt technocrats. But Abadi continues to be a puppet of the Iranian regime. He continues to allow ready access through Iraq to Syria for Iranian military personnel and supplies. Iranian support for the bloody regime of Bashar al-Assad has prolonged the civil war in Syria. Their support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, has caused untold suffering and death. 

Iran cannot be part of the solution to the conflicts raging in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. It is part of the problem. Iran exports terror. This is the real Iran under the theocratic and fascist rule of the mullahs, whose so-called ‘moderate’ president Rouhani the West believes it can do deals with. We should wake up! The ‘smiling’, ‘moderate’ Rouhani is in charge of a venally corrupt government, which has executed over 2,400 people since he took office in 2013. Rouhani’s government, under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, condones torture and arbitrary imprisonment, discriminates against women and encourages public floggings, eye-gouging, amputations and hanging as a means of terrorizing its own population into docile submission.

It is time we woke up to the fact that as long as the mullahs remain in power there will be no possibility of peace in the Middle East. 

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High representative for Foreign Affairs & Security should stop her business-as-usual approach to Tehran. She should be shouting in anger and condemnation at the human rights abuse that takes place in that country on a daily basis. The West should be entering into dialogue with the political coalition that is the NCRI, rather than pussyfooting around with the mullahs in Tehran.  The NCRI under the inspiring leadership of Mrs Maryam Rajavi, offers the best possible hope for peace and stability in the region. 

A major force in the NCRI is the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), which believes in a democratic, tolerant Islam and has bravely stood up against fundamentalism and violence. The PMOI’s vision of democracy, human rights, women’s rights, abolition of the death penalty, abolition of nuclear weapons and non-interference in other countries is surely the only way forward for Iran and its beleaguered and oppressed population.

So let me once again congratulate David Jones on his initiative in organising today’s meeting and in creating the all-party parliamentary committee. I know that one of their first objectives will be to ensure the protection of each and every one of the courageous PMOI refugees still trapped in Camp Liberty and to ensure that every one of them is quickly taken to a country of safety. I very much look forward to seeing all of you at the great PMOI Rally in Paris on 9thJuly. Last year there were more than 100,000 people at this event and this year we anticipate even more. This is a real show of strength for the PMOI and the best possible indication of how powerful and influential they are as a government in waiting for the Iranian nation.

Struan Stevenson was a Conservative MEP representing Scotland in the European Parliament from 1999 until his retirement in 2014. He chaired the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (Caucus) in the European Parliament for over 10 years. He was President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He is now President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).