Speech by Struan Stevenson in the Norwegian Parliament, Oslo, Norway
Tuesday 4thApril 2017
It is a great privilege for me to be here today in the Norwegian parliament. As a Scot I am always conscious of the fact that when I visit the Scottish Shetland Islands, people tell me that their nearest railway station is Bergen in Norway! Recent DNA surveys have discovered that almost half of all the people on Shetland have Viking ancestry and that also holds true right down the West coast of Scotland. With a name like Stevenson, I myself must have Viking ancestors, so when I come to Norway I always feel as if we share an ancient bond. It is a bond that may become even stronger when Scotland and the rest of the UK leave the EU.
But I am not here today to discuss our common heritage. The purpose of my visit is, as you know, to discuss the dangerous and destructive role of the Iranian regime in the Middle East and the systematic violation of human rights across the zone that characterizes their aggressive attempts to spread Islamic fundamentalism. Together with the National Council for Resistance in Iran (NCRI), I held a press conference in the House of Commons in London at the beginning of March, to mark the release of a comprehensive report detailing the belligerent activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and calling for their listing as international terrorists. Our report showed how the IRGC and the body responsible for extra-territorial operations - the Quds Force, are the main vehicles for Iran’s aggressive expansionism in the Middle East. The IRGC has for decades been carrying out terrorist attacks across the zone, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
Our report showed how the IRGC’s raison d'être is exclusively summed up in domestic suppression and interference in the affairs of other countries with the aim of expanding the Iranian regime's malign influence. At our press conference we provided irrefutable evidence that the IRGC now controls 90 of Iran’s 202 docks and ports, utilizing them for the exclusive export of weapons and military personnel to zones of conflict in which the IRGC are engaged throughout the Middle East. This is an outrage and a crime against world peace.
But meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and particularly exporting terrorism and fundamentalism, represents a strategic pillar for Tehran’s survival and endurance.
Our report showed how the IRGC is meddling in 14 Muslim countries in the region. They are directly involved in the hidden occupation of four countries in particular: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, although clearly this occupation is no longer hidden in respect of Syria. In the summer of 2016, there were close to 70,000 Iranian regime proxy forces present in that country. The Iranian regime is also directly meddling in the internal affairs of or plotting against the governments of at least 8 countries: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan.
Our study also demonstrated how the IRGC has set up terrorist affiliates or networks in at least 12 regional countries, while its terrorist activities have hit 13 countries, with only Oman acting as a political intermediary for the regime, helping it to circumvent sanctions. The IRGC is behind most of the brutal Shi’ite militias rampaging through the predominantly Sunni provinces of Iraq,massacring families and levelling cities like Ramadi, Fallujah and now Mosul in the name of the war against Daesh (ISIS).
But as we know, the Iranian regime's violence and crimes in other countries in the region and in particular its suppression of Sunnis, carried out under the banner of Shi’ite Islam, provoked a backlash, spawning the rise of groups like Daesh who seek to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” while spreading their violence and brutality to the four corners of the globe. It is a great irony that Iran has exploited the campaign against Daesh as an opportunity to carry out their genocidal crusade against the Sunnis, at the same time fooling the West into regarding the theocratic regime as an ally, even coaxing the US into providing vital air support.
Over the past six years the world has witnessed in horror how the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has massacred his own people, while enjoying unlimited financial and military support from Iran. It was the Iranian regime’s backing for Assad and for the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, two corrupt dictators who repressed their own people and particularly their Sunni communities that resulted in the rise of Daesh in the region.
Nouri al-Maliki is the Godfather of the gangster class of politicians in Iraq 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 under the Obama administration’s policy of appeasement towards Iran.
Maliki’s 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. It was thanks to Tehran that Daesh grew and became a threat to the whole world, creating the largest refugee crisis in modern history.
For far too long Iran and the IRGC have taken advantage of the West’s appeasement policy, not only engulfing the entire Middle East in flames, but also oppressing the Iranian people through atrocious and repeated human rights violations. Even Obama’s controversial deal that many boasted would tame Iran’s nuclear programmehas brought no such change. Iran’s January 29thballistic missile test was a flagrant violation of the deal, prompting the US administration to re-introduce a series of tough sanctions, signaling an immediate step-change with Obama’s appeasement policy.
Blacklisting the IRGC is long overdue and will be a first and necessary step in actually curbing Iranian atrocities. I am pleased to note that there are positive signals emerging from Washington that the US government may be about to take this step. It is necessary that Europe should do likewise. Indeed they should not wait for a green light from Washington. They have more than enough evidence to justify taking this step themselves and showing the Iranian regime that the days of appeasement are over and that we mean business.
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’, Rouhani is in charge of a venally corrupt government, which has executed over 3000 people since he took office in 2013.
Rouhani’s government, under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah 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.
I look forward to witnessing a new approach to Iran by the west. Mrs 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 and repression against women that takes place in that country on a daily basis.
Norway has a long and honorable record as a defender of human rights. Indeed Norway is one of the largest contributors to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva and has been so for a number of years. As such, I believe that Norway, with its own proud history of resistance against aggressors, will readily recognize the legitimate resistance of the Iranian opposition against the tyrannical theocratic rule of the mullahs.
I am aware of the great sympathy and support the people of Norway showed to the Iranian opposition leader, Maryam Rajavi, during her several visits to your country in recent years. Your empathy did not go unnoticed and I want to thank you sincerely for it. Mrs Rajavi is a courageous and formidable leader of the main opposition movement. She is the outstanding symbol of anti-fundamentalism and her manifesto for freedom, justice, human rights, women’s rights, an end to torture and the death penalty and an end to the nuclear threat, is something that we should all unite around internationally. I know that Norway can provide leadership in this respect. I strongly recommend that the West should be entering into dialogue with the political coalition that is the NCRI, rather than pussyfooting around with the mullahs in Tehran.
For decades, Iran has systematically jailed, tortured, and executed dissidents without due process of law and assassinated political opponents, even outside its state borders.
But I am absolutely confident that if it were not for this resistance movement, the political situation in the region and in Iran would have been much worse and the Iranian regime would have been able to commit even more crimes in the world.
It is clear that the West’s policy of continuous engagement with the Iranian regime, while closing its eyes to human rights violations and the accelerated sponsorship of terrorism, is a policy that has failed. Indeed the Iranian regime’s strategy of aggressive expansionism has rapidly increased. It is clear that there can be no hope of reform within this theocratic dictatorship. The only solution for Iran and also for peace and stability in the region is regime change in Tehran.
Ladies & Gentlemen, it was always my belief that elected European politicians need to represent and defend European values and not just commercial interests. I wrote this book – ‘SELF-SACRIFICE’ – about the Iranian opposition because I firmly believe that the only solution to the current crisis in the Middle East, the only way to counter the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, is to support the main democratic Iranian opposition in its fight against the Islamic Republic of Iran. That is why we must fight for regime change in Iran to restore freedom and justice for 80 million beleaguered Iranians.
Once again let me thank you sincerely for giving me the opportunity to address you today.
Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) was a Member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014). He was President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009- 2014) and Chair of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (Caucus) from 2004-2014.