SPEECH TO IRANIAN OPPOSITION CONFERENCE PARIS 30 JUNE 2017

LESSONS FROM HISTORY POINT TO THE NEED FOR REGIME CHANGE IN IRAN

As we saw in the devastating suicide attacks in Manchester and London, Islamic fundamentalism is as great a threat to us here in Europe and America as it is to people in the Middle East. What we call Islamic fundamentalism began when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in the Iranian revolution of 1979. Khomenei set up the first contemporary Islamic Republic anywhere in the world, with a constitution pledged to exporting revolution and creating a worldwide Islamic caliphate. Since that time Tehran has been the main focus of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, for both the Shi’ias and the Sunnis.

As we know, Iran is playing a dangerous and destructive role in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. It was the Iranian mullahs’ support for former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq and for Bashar al-Assad in Syria, two corrupt dictators who repressed their own people and particularly the Sunni communities in those two countries that resulted in the rise of Daesh. Because the Sunnis were humiliated and brutally repressed, they were driven into the arms of the Islamic extremists. So thanks to Tehran, ISIS grew and became a threat to the whole world. Now the Iranian regime has exploited the war on Daesh as an opportunity to consolidate its policy of aggressive sectarian expansionism in the Middle East, murdering thousands of Sunnis and levelling ancient Iraqi cities like Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul.

The ‘smiling’, ‘moderate’ Hassan Rouhani has just been re-elected to serve for a second term as Iran’s president He is in charge of a venally corrupt and repressive government, which has executed over 3,000 people since he took office in 2013. Many executions are carried out in public, even in football stadiums. Many journalists are in jail. Women activists have been given long-term prison sentences. Ethnic and religious minorities like the Kurds, the Baha’is and the Christians are brutally persecuted. Despite this appalling record, Iran’s supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei refused to congratulate Rouhani on his victory, as he regards him as a weakling! 

Khamenei had hoped the ultra hard-line candidate Ebrahim Raisi would win the election and is now grooming him to succeed as Iran’s next Supreme Leader. Khamenei has even hinted that he has it within his power to dismiss Rouhani.

Years of appeasement under Obama have not improved anything; in fact since the nuclear deal, human rights have deteriorated. More people have been executed and the mullahs are now meddling to an even greater extent in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The mullahs have interpreted the western policy of placation of their brutal regime as a sign of weakness, which they have exploited ruthlessly.

But we can learn some interesting lessons from history. At the height of its power, communism was divided into many warring factions such as Marxists, Leninists, Trotskyists and Maoists. Yet communists everywhere looked to Moscow and the Soviet Empire as the Godfather of their revolutionary movement. When the Soviet Union collapsed, world communism more or less faded away. Today, the Sunnis and Shi’ias are locked in a holy war. Their revolutionary offspring like Daesh (ISIS), al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and dozens of others, all fight each other like cats in a sack, yet they all look to Tehran as the Godfather of Islamic fundamentalism. That is why regime change in Tehran will sound the death-knell for all these extremist Islamic groups around the world. It is time we woke up to the fact that as long as the mullahs remain in power there will be no possibility of peace in the Middle East. The mullahs will always be the problem. They can never be part of the solution.