House of Lords Meeting On Iran’s Role In Destabilising The Middle East

Oct 24, 2023 | News

House of Lords Meeting On Iran’s Role In Destabilising The Middle Eastspeakers included Bob Blackman CBE MP, Alex Sobel MP, Jim Shannon MP, Marie Rimmer MP, Professor Walib Phares, Mosa Zahed, Azadeh Zabeti and, by video link, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Speakers were unanimous in their call to the UK Government to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and in their support for the protest led by the women of Iran.

The meeting was chaired by Lord Alton of Liverpool, who said:

I would like to welcome you all to our conference and thank you to all speakers and the audience for joining us for a timely and important discussion on Iran.

Today’s conference is divided into two 30-minute segments.

In the first part we will focus our discussions on Tehran’s destabilising role in the region with our guest speaker Professor Walid Phares from the US via video link, who will update and inform us about the Iranian regime’s support for terrorism and warmongering.

In the second segment, we will discuss the enduring popular uprising for freedom and democracy in Iran with our guest speaker from the organised democratic Iranian Resistance movement, the NCRI, updating us on the recent development with regard to the protests, the regime’s situation and the prospect of change in Iran.

These topics are intertwined because the export of terrorism and the destabilising the Middle East and beyond have been a key feature in the Iranian regime’s playbook to secure its survival and iron grip on power at home.

Senior officials of the regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have admitted this in public statements and remarks by stressing that if the regime does not fight in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Lebanon then they must fight for their survival in Tehran.

Meanwhile we have failed to proscribe the IRGC  – notwithstanding an intervention at the end of last week from officials in the US State Department publicly calling on countries around the world to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist group.

It has been reported that the Home Secretary and the Security Minister both support such a proscription – along with many colleagues from all sides of the aisle in both Houses.

What should now surely persuade the FCDO that it is time to do so are the increasing provocations at home and abroad demonstrating the danger which the IRGC poses. In addition there have been reports claiming the at the IRGC was involved in planning the atrocity in Israel.

The FCDO itself admits that since the start of 2022 MI5 and counter terrorism police have dealt with more than 15 credible threats by the Iranian regime to kill or kidnap individuals who were British or UK based.

Last week Robin Simcox, head of the Commission for Countering Extremism, called for the IRGC to be proscribed warning that its influence here gives it the capacity to spread extremist views and to threaten social cohesion.  Anti-Semitism on the streets of London and elsewhere should surely demonstrate to the FCDO that it is high time it removed the road block to proscription.   

Be in no doubt, the regime – in its collaboration with other dictatorships and authoritarian regimes – including Putin, Xi, and Kim – knows that the people of Iran and their democratic aspirations is the one serious threat to its totalitarian theocracy. It engages in wars, terrorism and destruction in the region and beyond, as it attempts to fight democratic ideals both overseas and at home.

We will hear this evening from the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance movement (NCRI), Mrs Rajavi who has consistently argued that when our leaders, experts and foreign policy thinkers promoted the illusion of moderates and reformers being on the rise from within the theocratic regime in Iran, it was just that, a monstrous illusion and a deception : “A serpent cannot give birth to a dove”.

It is, therefore, crucial to understand that one of the most pressing geopolitical challenges unfolding in the Middle East today is the struggle between the religious dictatorship and the people of Iran over who should rule Iran. Events unfolding in Iran and the region during the last year should convince those who still doubt this fact.

For four decades, the NCRI has been acting as a parliament-exile to advance the struggle for a democratic change in Iran. They have been exposing the regime’s nuclear weapons programme, sponsor of terrorism and human rights abuses through a network of resistance inside Iran.

Mrs Rajavi has put forward a ten-point democratic platform for the future, which contains the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people and offers a true and viable popularly supported alternative to the current regime.

Mrs Rajavi’s platform is gaining recognition and support in Western parliaments and among political leaders and experts because it embraces the democratic values of our society and envisions:

– an Iran without death penalty and torture
– an Iran where leaders are elected in free and fair elections
– an Iran found on gender equality, rule of law, separation of religion and state, religious freedom, and respect for religious and ethnic minorities
– an Iran that rejects WMDs and nuclear weapons and seeks a foreign policy based on peace and coexistence  with the neighbouring countries and the world.

We should view this alternative against the backdrop of a regime which on Sept. 16 2022 was responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police. A crackdown by security forces that followed saw more than 530 people killed and over 22,000 arrested In the light of its appalling treatment of women and dissidents I strongly believe that  the UK should now actively and publicly lead a coalition of international allies and partners to hold the regime to account for its human rights abuses and crimes against humanity through UN mechanisms and universal jurisdiction under our own laws. Evidence of these systematic human rights violations that amount to crime against humanity already exist and is to be further document when the newly UN Fact-finding mission on Iran presents its report in March next year.

As we know will hear from the other speakers and our guests, let me stress this again:  
The future of Iran – which is the puppet master and paymaster of Hamas in Gaza, of Hezbollah Lebanon and od the Houthis in Yemen – is paramount as it impacts the future of the Middle East and the world.

Lord David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today he is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer in the UK House of Lords.

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