FEAR, COWARDICE AND APPEASEMENT
By Struan Stevenson
The definition of appeasement is "the granting from fear or cowardice of unwarranted concessions in order to buy temporary peace at someone else's expense." European politicians are rapidly coming to understand the truth of this characterization, as they watch the bloody civil war in Syria enter its sixth year, creating a refugee crisis of almost biblical proportions as hundreds of thousands of men, women and children risk their lives daily in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean to seek sanctuary in Europe.
For years the EU, following the lead of the British, German and French governments, has sought to appease the oppressive theocratic regime in Iran and their regional allies, in the flawed belief that acceding to the demands of the mullahs would secure lasting peace. But meanwhile the venomous Iranian spider has taken every opportunity to weave its menacing web across vast tracts of the Middle East, fomenting the spiraling sectarian conflict between Shi’ias and Sunnis, destabilizing the region and threatening world peace. Tehran backs Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq.
There are now an estimated 70,000 Iranian-led troops engaged in the Syrian conflict, helping to prop-up Bashar al-Assad’s blood-soaked regime. It is estimated that Iran has spent $15 to $20 billion dollars a year on the conflict, totaling somewhere between $80 to $100 billion dollars. There can be no doubt that the Syrian people would have resolved this conflict themselves years ago, but for the malignant intervention of Iran.
The escalation of the vicious struggle in Syria sucked in Russia and laid the foundations for the rise of ISIS (Daesh). The barbaric jihadists used Syria as a springboard to invade Iraq, capturing large swathes of territory for their self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’, including major cities like Tikrit, Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul. Two years later they have been driven from many of these predominantly Sunni areas by a combined force of Kurdish Peshmerga, regular Iraqi troops and ruthless Shi’ia militias led and funded by Iran. These militias have exacted a terrible price for the liberation of Iraqi territory from Daesh, waging a genocidal campaign against the Sunni population and reducing ancient Iraqi metropolises to smoldering ruins.
It was the determination of Washington, London, Berlin and Paris to appease the mullahs that enabled Nouri al-Maliki, Tehran’s puppet, to become Prime Minister of Iraq for 8 calamitous years. He was a willing marionette of the Iranian regime, doing their bidding by opening a direct route for Iranian troops and equipment heading to Syria to bolster Assad. It was Maliki’s policy of genocide against his own Iraqi Sunni population aided and abetted by the Iranian mullahs and their sectarian Shi’ia militias that started a civil war in Iraq and opened the door for Daesh. Maliki is also the Godfather of the gangster class of politicians that have systematically robbed Iraq of its oil wealth and yet despite repeated warnings, Western governments gave him their full support for two disastrous terms of office, afraid that to do otherwise would upset the Iranian regime.
The ink had barely dried on the nuclear agreement with Iran on 14th July 2015 before it was being trumpeted as President Obama’s big foreign policy breakthrough, guaranteed to be the highlight of his rather lackluster presidency. Obama’s spin-doctors mounted an impressive and sophisticated campaign to persuade the world that his administration had struck a groundbreaking pact with the so-called ‘moderate’ President Rouhani. In fact the opposite is true. It was a terrible deal, which far from curtailing Iran’s expansionist agenda has significantly strengthened its position in the Middle East.
While Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon may have been slowed down, the deal was nevertheless horribly one-sided, lifting sanctions and releasing over $150 billion in frozen assets. This was a windfall for a regime whose biggest export is terror. Even John Kerry has admitted that some of these newfound resources may go towards funding Iran’s proxy wars in the region. Also, under the deal the UN arms embargo ends in five years and ballistic missile restrictions are lifted in eight years, allowing Iran to upgrade its conventional weapons through imports from foreign suppliers and enabling it to arm its foreign allies and proxies.
The impact of sanctions on Iran, coupled with the collapse in oil revenues, had crippled the regime. Welfare handouts were being savagely cut, food prices were rising continually; the black market was burgeoning. The regime was teetering on the brink of collapse and the nuclear pact threw them a vital lifeline. Obama’s desperate bid to secure a legacy agreement closed his eyes to all the danger signs. By signing the agreement with Iran, the P5 + 1 nations missed a unique opportunity to support the Iranian democratic opposition who wanted a regime change and to restore peace and stability to the region. Instead of demanding an end to medieval torture, executions, the abuse of women and the export of terrorism, America and Europe were jumping at the chance to do business. Money clearly trumps human rights.
The opposition leader Maryam Rajavi has urged: “western governments to stop overlooking the violations of human rights in Iran. It might be profitable for western governments and companies to strike lucrative deals with the Iranian regime represented by the Revolutionary Guards Corps, but in subsequent steps, they will have to spend the same profits on containing insecurity and terrorism emanating from the regime.”
While Rouhani smiles for the Western media, waves of mass judicial killings are ruthlessly carried out, designed to create an atmosphere of fear in a population increasingly dismayed at rising food and fuel costs, while their corrupt and fundamentalist rulers pour billions into brutal foreign wars. There have been repeated bread riots and mass demonstrations by schoolteachers and others, which have caused panic amongst the clerical regime, leading to further savage crackdowns. But none of this seems to attract any criticism from the West.
We now know that Rouhani is far from moderate. Around 3,000 people have been executed during the three years he has been in office. Under his leadership Iran has the highest per capita rate of executions of any country in the world. Recently 25 Sunni kurds were hanged in a single day. Rouhani justifies such barbarity by saying that the death penalty is God’s judgment on offenders. Nevertheless juveniles and women are regularly hanged, often in public and medieval punishments such as amputations, eye gouging, and lashing are commonplace.
Irrefutable evidence has also just emerged of the summary execution of more than 30,000 political prisoners by the Iranian regime in the summer of 1988, a crime against humanity that must surely rank as one of the most horrific of the late twentieth century. The vast majority of the victims were activists of the main opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK). The mass executions, in jails across Iran, were carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. A ‘Death Committee’ of four senior officials approved all the executions. Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, a member of that ‘Death Committee’, is today President Hassan Rouhani’s Justice Minister. Other members of that committee hold prominent positions in the Iranian regime.
Monstrous acts of butchery like this have become grisly milestones in the history of oppression and tyranny in contemporary Iran. Yet, twenty-eight years on from this barbaric crime, international condemnation has been slow to emerge. Indeed the West seems determined to overlook this perhaps the greatest human rights outrage since the end of World War II, so that it can sign lucrative deals with Tehran. It is a disgrace that there has been no prosecution of the criminals who orchestrated and carried out the gruesome 1988 murders.
It is now crucial for the EU to contain this terrorist regime. Europe’s policy of active engagement with Iran has only emboldened the mullahs and encouraged them to become even more aggressive, bringing the world closer to yet another catastrophic war. It is shameful that the EU continues to act out of fear and cowardice and it is high time they realized that the peace they have bought is only temporary and the price they have paid has been freedom and democracy for the 80 million oppressed and beleaguered people of Iran.
The EU was created on a shared determination to promote peace and stability and to build a world founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These principles underpin all aspects of the internal and external policies of the European Union. We cannot any longer allow the lure of rich economic gains for Western business interests to blind us to the abuse of human rights by the Iranian regime. Nelson Mandela famously said: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”. The EU should promote human rights in all areas of external action without exception and any expansion of their relationship with Iran must be conditioned on an immediate halt of any further executions.