Iran's Real Threat
by Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington
The assassination of former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto is a stark reminder of the ominous threat posed to free peoples by Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, and the challenges we all face as a result. And yet in a country next door to Pakistan our Government is giving support to a vicious regime, fundamentalist in character and practicing the same sort of terrorism.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian regime has been the principal state sponsor of terrorism across the globe, with innocent civilians in London, Berlin, and Paris, and even as far as Buenos Aires, Beirut, and the Horn of Africa the victims. Since the Coalition ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan and took control of Iraq, Iranian-make weapons have been responsible for a major part of British and U.S. armed forces’ deaths in Iraq, and Iranian-sponsored insurgents under orders from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, have been instrumental in sowing sectarian discord and strife costing countless Iraqi lives.
Iran’s mullahs have also been the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East and Lebanon; and now in 2008 Khomeini’s legacy of terror sponsorship continues with radical Palestinian and Lebanese groups Hamas and Hizballah still receiving funds and ideological counsel from Tehran’s theocratic dictatorship.
The mullahs’ menace was on display in January, when their Revolutionary Guards harassed three Coalition ships in the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran continues to enrich uranium to enable it to make a nuclear weapon despite three UN Security Council resolutions ordering it to halt the activity.
Coupled with Iranian terrorism and nuclear defiance abroad is the mullahs’ iron-fisted crackdown on domestic dissent. In December, 28 young men and women were detained in the north-eastern city of Shahroud for wearing "inappropriate" clothing at a party. They were lucky compared with the young woman identified only by her first name Zahra who was hanged in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison on December 19 and the 17-year-old schoolboy whose death sentence was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court on the 29th.
In December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing “deep concern” at the ongoing systematic practice of torture and punishments such as flogging, stoning and amputation of limbs in Iran. According to Amnesty International the regime continues to stone men and women to death, the penal code insisting that such stoning should be "specifically designed to increase the suffering of the victims."
Yet despite its international and domestic pariah status, the Iranian regime is being supported by the government of Gordon Brown here in the UK.
The regime’s main democratic opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), continues to pose the greatest danger to the mullahs’ reign, and does so even though 120,000 opposition activists have been executed. But the British Government, far from giving at least moral support to those who oppose this foul regime, has done its best to obstruct them in their work.
The PMOI -- a member of the wider coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) -- was banned in the UK by Jack Straw in 2001. Mr. Straw, when Home Secretary, also persuaded the EU to ban the group; however, the PMOI, refusing to accept the position, appealed both decisions in the courts, and on 12 December 2006, the Court of First Instance of the European Communities in a landmark verdict “annulled” the EU’s decision. But shamefully, at the UK Government’s bidding, the EU announced in June 2007 that it would maintain the PMOI in the list.
On November 30, 2007, the UK’s Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission ruled that the PMOI is not concerned in terrorism. It said that the Home Secretary’s decision to refuse an application made by a cross-party group of 35 MPs and Peers for de-proscription of the PMOI was “flawed,” “perverse” and had to be set aside. It ordered the Home Secretary to lay before Parliament an Order removing the PMOI from the proscribed list.
The UK government has announced its intention of appealing, a decision which has drawn the ire of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, a body comprised of over 50 Members of Parliament and Peers from across the political spectrum.
It is now time for the government to admit to its past mistakes and end its support for the mullahs. Instead it should accept the wise advice of the NCRI’s President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. She has repeatedly ruled out both foreign military intervention in Iran and appeasement of Tehran’s clerical leaders as viable policy options. Instead, she has put forward a practical and sensible third option: Supporting the Iranian people and their Resistance to bring about democratic change in Iran.
It is high time Mr. Brown acts boldly and removes the PMOI from the proscribed list. And then it should give serious thought to cutting off all commercial ties to the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.
Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington QC is a former UK Home Secretary under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.