Regime’s Destructive Role in the Middle East

The IRGC: A Menacing Force in the Middle East

Meeting in the House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada

Monday May 27, 2024 

After more than four decades of menaces and threats to wipe Israel off the map, the shadow war finally exploded into open conflict when the Iranian regime launched an unprecedented barrage on 13th April, with more than 300 drones and missiles fired at their arch enemy. Despite bombastic claims by the mullahs and fake videos of raging fires shown on state-run TV networks, in fact the air strike was a spectacular failure. Around 99% of the missiles and drones fired at Israeli targets either blew up shortly after launching or were destroyed by the Israeli Iron Dome defence system, with air support from the US, UK, France and Jordan. Nevertheless, this calamitous attack triggered Israel’s retaliatory response on 19th April, with airstrikes on military targets in the Iranian cities of Isfahan and Tabriz, and simultaneous drone and missile attacks on Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) compounds in Iraq and Syria. The tit-for-tat exchange has concentrated minds on how much worse things could become if the mullahs ever develop a nuclear weapon.

The IRGC control the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme. Although the mullahs claim that their Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa against the acquisition, development or use of nuclear weapons way back in the 1990’s, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stockpiles of Iran’s enriched uranium now stand at 21 times the amounts permitted under UN Resolutions. The IAEA reported it had detected uranium particles enriched to 83.7% at Fordow, an underground uranium enrichment facility 20 miles northeast of the Holy City of Qom. IAEA inspectors say that there has been “frenzied activity” at Fordow recently as the mullahs’ race to install new equipment to accelerate the enrichment programme, enriching to levels a hairs’ breadth away from weapons grade, posing a grave threat to the Middle East and the wider world. An even bigger underground nuclear site has been constructed at Natanz, in the Zagros Mountains in central Iran, in a plant buried so deep in the earth that it is beyond the reach of weapons designed to destroy such facilities.

The Iranian regime has achieved this advanced state of uranium enrichment by deceiving the West into believing they were obeying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, introduced by President Barack Obama in 2015. The mullahs are past masters at lying and cheating. They enthusiastically grasped Obama’s deeply flawed nuclear deal in 2015, agreeing to all of its restrictive clauses, while secretly accelerating their clandestine work on the production of a nuclear weapon. President Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal in 2018, declaring it the worst deal in American history. He imposed a tough new ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions regime and blacklisted the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Americans added the IRGC to their foreign terrorist list in April 2019, in the final days of the Trump presidency. Trump said: "This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognises the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism”.

Trump also ordered the drone strike on the Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani, who, together with his friend Abu Mehdi Mohandes, the leader of the brutal Iraqi Shi’ia militias al-Hashd al-Shaabi and Kataib Hezbollah - were killed at Baghdad Airport on 3rd January 2020. Soleimani was one of the most vicious criminals in Iran’s history, with the blood of tens of thousands, including hundreds of Americans, on his hands. Soleimani and his Quds Force successors fomented conflict across the Middle East for decades, backing Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and significantly, Hamas in Gaza. Iran and its IRGC/Quds Force has been the main warmongering factor supplying finance, weapons and personnel to its proxies and masterminding the catastrophic Hamas attack on Israel on 7th October last year that triggered the war in Gaza. Indeed, the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on 1st April, killing IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, and 6 other Quds Force commanders, was explicit retaliation for their key role in directing a barrage of attacks on Israel from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

The IRGC’s involvement in international terrorism is also well documented. They have deployed registered Iranian diplomats as terrorist bombers, like Assadollah Assadi, the attaché from the Iranian embassy in Vienna, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for handing over a half kilo TATP bomb to 3 co-conspirators and ordering them to detonate the device at a huge Iranian opposition rally in Paris in 2018. Assadi was disgracefully freed in a sham prisoner-swap deal with a European held hostage in Tehran and sent home to a hero’s welcome. In December 2018, the Iranian Ambassador and First Secretary in Tirana, were declared personae non gratae by Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama and were expelled for endangering the security of the state by plotting bomb outrages from within their embassy. Assassinations have also become a common feature of IRGC activities abroad, targeting ex-pat Iranians, journalists and even senior Western politicians who criticize the mullahs’ repressive regime. Maintaining diplomatic links with this nest of vipers has echoes of Chamberlain’s attempts to appease Hitler.

EU political leaders warned that releasing Assadi in the outrageous prisoner-swap deal for a young Belgian charity worker held hostage by the regime, 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 an horrific way 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, as indeed have I and our ISJ colleague Paulo Casaca.


Propaganda and misinformation have long been used as aggressive weapons, exploited to demoralize the morale of the enemy and to wear down the will of an opponent to fight. Throughout history, such tactics have been commonplace, with the Nazis even appointing Joseph Goebbels as their Second World War Propaganda Minister. The Iranian regime has borrowed heavily from the Nazi playbook, using propaganda and the tactics of demonization to traduce the MEK, whom it regards as an arch enemy, and to confuse the public at home and abroad. 

An example of this is taking place in Iran right now. Last summer the notorious judiciary of the Iranian regime announced the establishment of a special court to prosecute 104 members of the MEK in absentia, including many leaders of the Iranian Resistance, and many who are in Ashraf 3 in Albania. During the bogus proceedings, numerous regime officials supporting these sham trials have cited the objective as neutralizing the PMOI's influence, particularly among the younger generation, and initiating legal actions against the MEK abroad. However, past experiences reveal that beyond these stated goals, the regime harbours a more sinister objective, namely, laying the groundwork for terrorist activities against the MEK in Europe. Particularly egregious is the framing of the MEK in this bogus trial in absentia for crimes such as “waging war against God” and “corruption on earth,” offenses punishable by death.

In the UK, both Channel 4 News and the Guardian have run smear stories targeting the Iranian refugees in Albania, likening them to a cult and claiming they live in a tightly secured military compound. One ludicrous article even alleged the MEK had kidnapped and murdered some of their own supporters. The claims were preposterous and easily disproved. Indeed, the fact, three weeks before the reports appeared on Channel 4 News and in the Guardian, the same reports appeared almost word for word in a website created by Massoud Khodabandeh and Anne Singleton, two trained MOIS agents. This exposed the sinister source of the prejudicial fake news. 

I have also been personally affected by the regime’s campaigns. After making a speech at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where I attacked the theocratic regime’s use of cyberwarfare against its opponents, I returned home to find that my entire website had been destroyed. When I contacted the company that managed security on my website in London, they told me that among the thousands of websites they managed, mine had been the only one hacked. They said it had clearly been a sophisticated operation. It cost me several thousand pounds to rebuild my website and I now have a password that is around a mile long!

Typical of smear campaigns waged by the mullahs was the article that appeared in the French daily newspaper, Libération, in November 2021, in which they said the MEK was an “Islamic-Marxist group” who “sided with Saddam Hussein” during the Iran/Iraq war, and that the MEK has “been on the lists of terrorist organizations in the United States and in Europe for years.” As usual, this was all lies and tired and weary propaganda, fed into the system by Iran’s MOIS. 

The demonization machinery is still at work and aids and abets the western policy of appeasement. The regime has infiltrated their agents into the very heart of our western democracies. When I was in the European Parliament, every time we tabled a motion criticizing the mullahs, the senior advisor to the Socialist group on Middle Eastern affairs, Eldar Mamedov, a Latvian with Iranian origins, always briefed against us and put down pro-regime amendments. We always assumed he was controlled by the mullahs, but we could never prove it. Then along came the Qatargate corruption scandal, and Mamedov was quickly exposed as one of the key officials involved. He was immediately dismissed from the Socialist group and the European Parliament. 

Individual MEPs in the European Parliament and MPs in Western democracies are often singled out for an onslaught of misinformation, whenever they express support for the MEK or call for freedom and democracy in Iran. They are often bombarded with misinformation about the MEK and can often also receive calls from the Iranian embassy or from people who claim to be disaffected former members of the MEK, although they are in fact trained MOIS agents who have been recruited by the regime.

In September last year, the London-based TV station ‘Iran International’ and the news website ‘Semafor’, sent shockwaves through Europe and America when they revealed that an influential organization known as the Iran Experts Initiative (IEI), which had consistently lobbied and advised the Biden administration, EU governments and the European Parliament, was in fact set up and controlled by Tehran, stirring profound implications for global diplomacy and security. Based on an avalanche of leaked emails translated from Farsi into English by Iran International and Semafor, the two news organizations showed how the so-called ‘Experts Network’ had been created by the mullahs’ regime in 2014 “to improve Tehran’s image abroad”. ‘Experts from the network had consistently peddled misleading information designed by the mullahs, while also demonizing the NCRI and the MEK. 

The leaked emails exposed how the theocratic regime sought to use the Experts Network to build international ties with influential academics and researchers, penetrating governments, think tanks and advisory groups at the highest level and spreading the regime’s propaganda in Western media. They revealed the disturbing fact that European governments and institutions were relying on analyses and recommendations for their policy on Iran provided by these so-called experts. The emails unmasked the Iranian regime's covert initiative to advance Tehran's interests, including its nuclear programme, while diverting attention from its appalling human rights record. 


The charade claiming to be ‘elections’ in Iran took place on 1st March. Despite repeated appeals by the Supreme Leader and his cronies, the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people stayed away. The boycott was nationwide, as the leading candidate in Tehran secured less than eight percent of the votes by those eligible to cast their ballots. Quick to exploit the mass boycott of the election, isolated spin doctors for Reza Pahlavi, son of the deposed Shah of Iran, claimed the majority of Iranians clearly longed for the restoration of the monarchy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like the famous tale by Hans Christian Andersen about the Emperor who has no clothes, Reza Pahlavi continues to stride naked across the world stage, naively believing he is wearing the resplendent robes of a monarch.  Meanwhile, in repeated uprisings that have shaken the Iranian regime to the core, demonstrators are heard to chant: "Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Sheikh," indicating that they want democracy, not autocratic tyranny. The demonstrators are clearly giving voice to the defining curse that has thwarted the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations for generations, namely the corrupt and brutal alliance, tacit or explicit, between Iran’s monarchists and clerics.

The overthrow of the Shah in the 1979 revolution was hailed by the Iranian people as a deliverance from cruel oppression. The monarchy's relationship with the clergy, who hi-jacked the revolution to seize power, was a complex one. The Shah had initially shown fidelity to religious customs and leaned on the clergy during the first two decades of his rule. It was a symbiotic relationship. The monarchy derived its ‘divine’ claim to legitimacy from the clergy, and the clergy derived its social power and wealth from the monarchy's acquiescence. The two institutions were a major impediment to the formation of a developed civic society based on democratic values and human rights. The clergy, with some exceptions, tried to stay in the Shah's favor and maintained pervasive relations with SAVAK, the Shah’s hated secret police, who brutally murdered and tortured political activists and intellectuals, including authors, academics, artists, and poets. But following widespread demonstrations against his oppressive rule, the Shah fled in January 1979, never to return.

In 1980, after his father's death, Reza Pahlavi, proclaimed himself Reza Shah II, and said he wanted Iran to have a constitutional monarchy. Despite claiming that he would like the Iranian people to have the freedom to choose if they wished to restore him as King, he nevertheless proclaimed himself Shah or King while living in Egypt. But, despite abundant financial resources about which he has never been entirely transparent, he has failed to assemble significant supporters of the monarchy in exile or form a cohesive opposition group or organization during the past four and a half decades. His failure to emerge as a credible opposition figure has underlined the fact that the monarchy is a spent force that belongs to the past and has nothing to offer for the future of Iran. 

Indeed, the self-proclaimed ‘Crown Prince’ Reza Pahlavi, has inflamed hostility in Iran by stating his would-be support for the IRGC. During a talk show with Iran International TV in 2018, he said: “I am in bilateral contacts with the (regime’s) military, the IRGC and the Basij. We are communicating. They are signalling their readiness and expressing willingness to align with the people.” 

It is the warmongering IRGC and their paramilitary Basij, who have shot, arrested, tortured, raped and brutalized opponents of the regime at home and abroad for 45 years. They are blacklisted as a foreign terrorist organization in America, and now the Canadian Parliament has unanimously voted for the IRGC to be blacklisted. Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, and a huge majority of EU lawmakers, have called for their blacklisting in Europe. They brutally repressed the nationwide insurgence in 2022, killing more than 750 innocent protesters, including many women and children, and arresting over 30,000. During all these public protests, support for Reza Pahlavi has been non-existent. Indeed, the would-be ‘King’ has remained largely invisible in opposition circles for the past 45 years. For him to suggest a role for the IRGC in a future Iran, is an outrageous indication of the total illegitimacy of the monarchy. 

Reza Pahlavi and his dwindling bunch of supporters are also naively playing the role of useful idiots for the mullahs. Keen to spread confusion through the ranks of the protesters, millions of whom have called for the overthrow of the theocratic regime, the mullahs have seized on deceptively promoting the return of the monarchy as a way of alarming the people and creating difficulties for the PMOI/MEK and their burgeoning Resistance Units, who have guided and coordinated opposition to the theocratic regime from the outset. 

Threats, lies, warmongering, deploying terror gangs abroad and crushing dissent at home, are the hallmarks of this oppressive regime that massacred over 33,000 political prisoners, mostly supporters of the MEK, in 1988 alone. The courageous protesters and their Resistance Units, led from the start by extraordinary women like Mrs Maryam Rajavi, who risk their lives daily by demanding the overthrow of the mullahs, deserve the unequivocal backing of the West. The EU and UK must now follow America’s lead by blacklisting the IRGC and indicting the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, his executioner president Ebrahim Raisi, and all the other regime tyrants, for human rights abuse and crimes against humanity. The time for weakness and appeasement is over. Only the overthrow of this tyrannical regime will avert a nuclear disaster and restore peace, justice and democracy to the Iranian people and the wider Middle East. A naked emperor in the shape of Reza Pahlavi, is an amusing fairy tale fit only for children.


The second round of sham elections in Iran was held on 10 May, with a derisory 8% participation by the voting public. The first round to the 290-seat parliament and the 88 members of the Assembly of Experts, was held on 1st March, when voter turnout was 8.2%. That round determined the allocation of 245 of the seats in the Majlis, with the remaining 45 decided in the second round, 16 of which were in the Tehran constituency. These were the first elections in Iran since the nationwide uprising in 2022/23 that followed the death in custody of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini. The brutal crackdown by the regime on protesters led to over 750 deaths and more than 30,000 arrested, many of whom have been raped, tortured, and executed. 

The increasingly psychotic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeatedly urged voters to turnout in the elections, in a determined effort to validate support for his tyrannical dictatorship. However, a combination of voter apathy, disillusionment with the political system, lack of trust in the electoral process, restrictions on candidate selection, and perceptions of unfairness and lack of genuine choice in the elections, played a key role in the low turnout. It has come as a huge blow and a major embarrassment to the theocratic regime. 75 million Iranians know that the mullahs’ regime is on its last legs. They know that elections are a sham from the outset, with fundamentalist candidates carefully handpicked and personally approved by Khamenei before they are allowed to stand, and with widespread ballot rigging and voter fraud by the mullahs in a bid to boost the turnout and manipulate the results.

Undeterred by the reality of the situation, the mullahs’ Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander who is on the international terrorist list for bombing the Jewish Community Centre in Argentina, absurdly told a news conference that 25 million of the 61 million eligible voters had cast their votes. Then, President Ebrahim Raisi, known as ‘The Butcher of Tehran’ for his key role an executioner during the notorious 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, praised the "passionate turnout", in the elections, which he described as an "extreme blow" to opponents of the Islamic Republic. But the mullahs’ lies, and fabrications have failed to silence widespread derision in the normally quiescent state-run media, with journalists and even regime officials describing it with phrases like “disaster,” “scandal,” “shame,” and “sounding the alarm bell.”

When the terrorist Interior Minister Vahidi, made the outrageous comment that the elections marked an “heroic saga,” it sparked a storm of ridicule. Referring to the 8% voter turnout, the state-run Ham-Mihan newspaper sarcastically entitled it as the “Eight-Percent Heroic Saga!”. The former Minister of Communications Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi was quoted as saying “Presumably, their notion of heroism refers to the 92 percent non-participation in Tehran.” A former regime TV host said: “It is an honor for all of us that the Minister of Interior Affairs understands the concept of ‘heroism’”. Even the Javan newspaper, which is the unadulterated propaganda voice of the IRGC – the regime’s Gestapo, reported that: “In Tehran, we witnessed a significantly disappointing level of participation in the first round and witnessed an eight percent participation in the second round”. The ultra-conservative Resalat newspaper, under the satirical headline of “When ‘Everyone’ Showed Up!” mocked the regime’s claims of using the elections to purify its ranks and wrote, “When we said you’re not purifying the front, but rather emptying it, nobody paid attention”. The Resalat article continued: “We expected these elites to foster unity and coherence, not for 92 percent of eligible voters to abstain and say ‘no’”.

The nationwide boycott of the polls has had a profound impact on the teetering regime. Khamenei thought that by appointing the extremist Ebrahim Raisi as president he would be able to quell further dissent from the rebellious public. The opposite has happened. Resistance Units of the main democratic opposition People’s Mojadehin of Iran/Mojahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) have burgeoned in towns and cities across Iran. Anti-regime and pro-PMOI/MEK graffiti, banners and posters appear regularly on walls and highway flyovers. There have been firebomb attacks on IRGC compounds and regime offices. Slogans attacking Khamenei and Raisi have interrupted state-run national TV news broadcasts, with images of Mrs Maryam Rajavi, the exiled leader of the opposition movement. Blind panic has led to intense conflicts and power struggles within the regime’s senior ranks, with officials and insiders attacking each other and exposing each other’s corruption.

In desperation, Khamenei and Raisi have resorted to even further bloodthirsty oppression. In a frenzy of executions 94 men and women have been hanged in the past month, many of them simply for protesting during the nationwide uprising in 2022/23. Raisi has ordered an intensive clampdown on women who do not comply with the strict Islamist dress code. Guidance Patrol or ‘morality police’ tour the streets of Iran’s towns and cities in distinctive green and white vans, with teams of black-chador-clad women pouncing on any girl or woman showing hair beneath her veil or hijab. Having learned no lessons from the death of Mahsa Amini, there have been further deaths in custody at the hands of the morality police. Khamenei tried to deflect public attention by warmongering across the Middle East, instigating the murderous Hamas attack on Israel on 7th October, which sparked the ongoing catastrophic war in Gaza. Khamenei’s proxies, funded, trained and directed by the IRGC are waging proxy-wars in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and now Gaza. By launching an outrageous kamikaze drone and ballistic missile barrage against Israel on 15th April, the Iranian regime ended years of shadow conflict and opened up a new potential for direct war with their age-old enemy Israel. By doing so, Khamenei hoped that the Iranian people would forget their animosity to his regime and rally to the mullahs’ flag. The pitiful 8% turnout at the second elections has shown that his plan has backfired spectacularly. The Iranian people want regime change. They want freedom, justice, women’s rights, human rights, an end to the death penalty and an end to the nuclear threat. They don’t ask for Western military intervention. But they look to the West to show moral support for their Resistance movement and for their inalienable right to overthrow the dictatorial regime.