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Support Iran dissidents, de-proscribe PMOI – Lord Temple-Morris

Support Iran dissidents, de-proscribe PMOI - Lord Temple-MorrisNCRI – In a debate on Iran at the House of Lords on Thursday initiated by Lord Hurd of Westwell, a number of Peers criticized British government’s policy on Iran. The following are excerpts from remarks by Lord Temple-Morris:

I have never had, and do not have, any financial interests in Iran. There is a personal interest, however, in that I have been married, if not to the country, to one of its former citizens for 41 years.

I am the President, and have been for some years, of the Iran Society. I was an officer, mainly chairman, of the British-Iranian All-Party Parliamentary Group in this building for 31 years; I resigned from that office, while in this House, together with a number of other offices to do with Iran—keeping the Iran Society, which is purely cultural and non-political—because of my deep reluctance to have anything officially to do, as a backbench volunteer, with the present regime in Iran.

After the revolution, there was a particularly vicious and nasty civil war between 1979 and 1983. The secular Left, in the form of an organisation that exists now—the People’s Mujaheddin of Iran—lost out and eventually left the country in 1983. Before, during and after the war, it suffered persecution of monumental and extremely unpleasant proportions, which extended to its female as well to as its male members.

Internally, Iran is in a mess; it is in an economic and political mess. It has more than 60 million people. It cannot provide jobs for its youth. It has an Islamic government. Nobody is really in power—a different answer here, a different answer there, but with one important exception: internal security. It is completely dependent on its oil, gas and natural resources. It has a bad infrastructure. Its aeroplanes crash; its lifts do not work. I could continue in that vein. Its non-oil exports are minimal. Tragically, it has made a mess even of its caviar industry. It is dependent on the West for consumer goods. Noble Lords will perhaps have a different view, but the East will not be able to replace the West in a country which has always leant towards the West and will continue to do so. It is nonsense to think that the West needs it more than it needs us. We need its oil, but it needs the money with which we pay for it.

Iran presents certain problems for us, the first of which is the nuclear issue. I am convinced that it is going for a nuclear bomb, and I am equally convinced that it cannot be trusted with it. This leads to the seriousness underlying this debate, as has been said.
Terrorism has largely been limited so far to Arab-Israel, to Hezbollah and to Hamas, but some serious meddling in Iraq does not augur well for the future. British lives have been lost because of it. So it is a serious situation. If there was a military strike in whole or in part on Iran, the potential terrorism that would come out of Iran would dwarf anything that is happening in Iraq, however ghastly that might be.

We need to strike a balance between pressure and maximum sanctions and isolation. Isolation is dangerous and unpredictable, but pressure remains relevant. People will argue for dialogue. I have spent 26 years since the Iranian revolution indulging in dialogue with Iran. I am quite convinced as a result that it will not genuinely engage and that it will play for time. I have already mentioned its vulnerabilities: the economy, infrastructure and population. We must support dissidents within and outside Iran. They expect it and they want a lead on it. Secondly, we must continually expose—and not just in a little resolution in some UN committee—its atrocious human rights violations. We must support protestors within the country all the time. A recent strike by bus drivers in Tehran and their repression was largely ignored by western media in spite of appeals—particularly to trades unions—to help. That is an example of something we should take action on.

Finally, one thing will really hurt and will illustrate where the Government stand. I have thought a lot about it, and I have never advocated this before. I dealt earlier with the civil war in Iran after the revolution. To de-proscribe the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran—which has never been a terrorist organisation as far as this country is concerned and has a perfectly respectable political wing—as a terrorist organisation would be the biggest signal that could be sent. Dialogue is no longer a priority, action and pressure are. In bringing action and pressure, we have to encourage the Iranian people, not the administration, because, at the end of the day, only they can do it.