On Tuesday March 28th 2017, Struan Stevenson President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) made the following speech in The House of Commons of the United Kingdom, on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
First of all let me wish everyone a very happy Nowruz.
And to my Iranian friends: Eideh Shoma Mobarak ! (Happy New Year)
I particularly wish to say happy New Year to the Iranian resistance members who are now mainly in Albania. I visited them in Tirana just before Christmas, which was a very moving experience for me to see them.
As you know Nowruz literally means “New Day”. The arrival of spring and the reawakening of nature is a time of inspiration for us all, when we can join together in the long march to freedom and reconciliation. I pray that this Nowruz will see the flowering of unity between all colours, creeds and religions. We are all one humankind and we must all strive to end conflict and to live in a society where peace and freedom are the guiding principles; a society where Shi’ites, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and people of all religions and none, can live in harmony; a society where religion and the state are separate entities and where justice is fair and free from political influence.
Sadly, for 80 million Iranians, such a society does not exist. The mullahs’ Velayat-e Faqih regime offers only repression, cruelty, injustice, torture, corruption and the export of terror. That they do so in the name of Islam is an outrage and disgrace. Let us pray that this Nowruz will bring the blossoming of a new and better future for Iran and an end to the years of suffering under the tyrannical dictatorship of the theocratic fascists.
When I was in London three weeks ago, we held a press conference to mark the release of a comprehensive report detailing the aggressive 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 (Jerusalem) 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.
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. 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.
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. So it was thanks to Tehran that ISIS 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. 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 Britain as well as the rest of Europe should do likewise. Indeed we should not wait for a green light from Washington. We have more than enough evidence to justify taking this step ourselves 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.
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. I say the same thing to our own British government. They should make any future relationship with the Iranian regime conditional on a halt to executions and a clear progress on human rights. We should not compromise on these things.
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.
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.
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.
Let us hope and pray that this joyful festival of Nowruz may lead to joy and happiness for the people of Iran and the region with the overthrow of the brutal current theocratic regime.
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.