Why the Iranian regime must come to an end

Iranian members of the revolutionary guards. Picture: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian members of the revolutionary guards. Picture: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images) - Credit: AFP/Getty Images

A recent New European article suggested the sudden downfall of the Iranian regime could create more problems than it solves. Former MEP Struan Stevenson disagrees.

It is incredible that some commentators on Iran still believe that 'quiet, calculated diplomatic pressure on the current regime to change some of its practices…' may somehow end the brutal repression, corruption and human rights abuse that the Iranian people have suffered for 40 years. This was the view of Paul Knott, in his recent New European article, arguing that the downfall of the regime in Tehran might not be in the world's best interests.

He correctly lists the shortcomings of one of the planet's most repugnant dictatorships, but then, having diagnosed the disease, makes the classic Western appeaser's error of prescribing the wrong medicine. Falling into the trap of identifying the internal struggle as being between 'hardliners' and 'moderates', Knott suggests president Hassan Rouhani leads a 'relatively moderate and reformist government'.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Since Rouhani came to power in August 2013, more than 3,500 people have been executed in Iran, which now holds the record as the world's leading executioner per capita.

It is not surprising that the uprisings, which have raged across Iran since last December, have targeted the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and president Hassan Rouhani. The angry protesters are not demanding that hard-liners should be replaced with moderates, a myth that still beguiles many western governments, who think there is room for gradual change. The chants of 'Hardliners, reformers, the game is over,' 'Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, I give my life for Iran' and 'Leave Syria, think about us instead', have clearly demonstrated the people's opposition to the clerical government's belligerent regional meddling and their demand for regime change.

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The so-called 'moderate' Rouhani has presided over a brutal offensive on the protesters, sending in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who have gunned down dozens in the streets and arrested more than 10,000 protesters, many of whom have been tortured to death in prison.

Rouhani's government claims to represent God's will on earth, yet regards women as second-class citizens, hangs people in public, condones torture, arbitrary imprisonment, eye-gouging, stoning, whipping and amputation. Amnesty International last August published a 94-page report entitled Caught in a web of repression: Iran's human rights defenders under attack. It detailed 45 specific instances of what the organization described as a 'vicious crackdown'.

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Nor will this repressive regime tolerate opposition abroad. In July, German police arrested Assadollah Assadi, a diplomat from the Iranian Embassy in Vienna, and charged him with terrorist offences. The day before, the Belgian police had arrested an Iranian couple from Antwerp after high explosives and a detonator were found in their car. Investigators believe Assadi gave them the bomb and instructed them to detonate it at the Iranian democratic opposition rally being held in Villepinte, near Paris. Emmanuel Macron has declared his outrage at this attempted terrorist atrocity on French soil and his government has imposed sanctions on Iran's Ministry of Intelligence.

Iran's descent into economic chaos can be traced directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Rouhani. Their policy of aggressive military expansionism across the Middle East has seen them consistently pour men and resources into Syria's civil war, the genocidal campaign against the Sunni population of neighbouring Iraq, their support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen and their vast funding for the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

Combined with the mullahs' own predilection for corruptly lining their own pockets, it is little surprise that the country with the world's second largest gas reserves and fourth largest crude oil reserves is now facing economic meltdown. Iran, despite its rich, civilised and open culture, has now become an international pariah, its religious fascist regime condemned for human rights abuse and the export of terror, while its 80 million beleaguered citizens, over half of whom are under 30, struggle to feed their families against a background of record temperatures, power outages, water shortages and food prices that have risen by more than 50%.

Those advocating 'quiet, calculated diplomatic pressure' in our dealings with Iran, should remember the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain.

There is only one way to stop the current wars and conflicts in the region; adopting a firm line with the Iranian regime and supporting the popular uprising and the democratic opposition. Only a firm and strong policy can restore freedom and justice in Iran and prevent more war in this troubled region.

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