“The British government has sent our sons to Iraq and Afghanistan to defend our democratic values and extend them to those who are lacking them. At the same time some of our companies are providing petrodollars to the Iranian regime which are used in turn to provide the bombs and ammunition to kill them.” This is a quote from an Iranian exile, now a British citizen.
When I heard it, I was shocked, not least because our government is employing a bizarre and dangerous appeasement policy toward a brutal regime which is hanging people from construction cranes in numerous towns in Iran, is exporting terrorism to Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon, and is pursuing a clandestine nuclear program in order to hold the world to ransom. And all financed by petrodollars.
Ironically, our government’s appeasement policy is ignoring the right of the Iranian people to achieve no more than we would wish for ourselves: democracy and freedom. The recent “election” in Iran was rightly labeled “neither free nor fair” by most Western countries, including the EU itself. So why are we helping to suppress Iran’s main democratic opposition in exile?
Nick Cohen in a book published in 2007 entitled, “What’s Left?” says: “We don’t have an obligation to overturn tyranny by military force. But we have no right to turn our backs on those who want the freedoms we take for granted…. We have the freedom to vote, to lobby, to protest, to write and to speak, and there is no point in having freedom unless you use it to a good purpose.”
And in criticizing the appeasement of the “Islamists,” he wrote: “Fear is the most powerful of human motives, and a willingness to rationalize the irrational is a fatal liberal weakness.”
Whether it is fear or the hope of economic gain which motivated the British government to impose, and thereafter maintain, restrictions on the mullahs’ main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), the result diminishes the prospect for peace for that part of the world. Furthermore, both the European Court of Justice and POAC, a branch of the U.K.’s High Court, have called the ban on the PMOI “unlawful.”
How ironic when one considers that the PMOI played a major role in protecting our interest in the face of a brutal and expansionist religious dictatorship which came to power in Iran in 1979.
When Khomeini assumed power, he announced his global ambitions with these words: “I want to hear the sound of ‘Allahu akbar’ everywhere.” And thus, he identified Iraq as the first stepping stone to achieving his objective. That is why he described the Iran-Iraq war as a “divine blessing.” He thereafter ordered children to act as “disposable soldiers” to clear minefields under the banner “conquering Jerusalem through Karbala.”
But sadly no one took his threat seriously apart from the leaders of the PMOI who moved their headquarters to Iraq after signing a ceasefire agreement with Iraqi officials shortly after Iraq had pulled all its forces out of Iran.
The presence of the ayatollahs’ main opposition force in Iraq was a clear signal to the Iranian people. Khomeini lost his ability to mobilize the resources needed to win the war, but with an eye on fundamentalist expansion he refused to sign a ceasefire agreement which had been on the table since October 1982.
When in 1988 his advisers told him there was no choice but to accept a ceasefire under U.N. resolution 598, he described it as “drinking the chalice of poison” and ordered the massacre of 30,000 PMOI supporters in prisons as a response.
The very fact that the PMOI was based in Ashraf city, Iraq, did much to restrict the mullahs’ ambitions to infiltrate Iraq in the 1980’s and did so again in 2003, despite the naivety of Western leaders who didn’t see Iran’s infiltration in Iraq as a threat at that time.
Ashraf still stands as a symbol of democratic freedom in the middle of Iraq’s barren land, and millions of Iraqis – Shiite, Sunni, Kurd and Christian – have stood shoulder to shoulder with it in defusing and rejecting a civil war which the Iranian regime was set to impose on Iraq in an effort to get rid of coalition forces.
The Iranians and their proxies in the Iraqi government have continually tried to destroy Ashraf. They first applied for the extradition of PMOI members to Iran when a group of renowned international lawyers headed by the Rt. Hon. Lord Slynn of Hadley achieved the status of “protected persons” for the residents of Ashraf.
The Iranian regime and its minions in Iraq tried again to stop the organizations by cutting off their supply of food, medicine, water and oil, and they even resorted to terrorist attacks against Ashraf.
The latest attempts to diminish the spirit of the PMOI involved the destruction of the water pumping station close to Ashraf situated near the Tigris River which also serves some 25,000 local Iraqis.
Fortunately none of these actions have affected the resilience of the residents of Ashraf.
Sadly however very little has been heard here in the West about this bastion of freedom which shines as a beacon for the Iranian people and lovers of democracy worldwide. In other words we have a duty to defend and protect Ashraf not only for the sake of the Iranians who continue to oppose the evil regime in Tehran but also for our own sake.
Neither invasion of Iran nor the appeasement policy are viable policy options although the latter has been tried and failed and the former will simply ignite the powder keg which is the modern day Middle East.
But there is a third way, as outlined by the president elect of the Iranian resistance, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. In 2004, she proposed her policy, “Third Option” which simply calls on Western countries to lift the restrictions on opposition exiles and allow them to achieve effective democratic change and allow them to work for the peaceful transition to democracy and freedom in their own country.
Secondly she called for the imposition of comprehensive sanctions against the brutal dictatorship which exists in modern day Iran. Thus in other words she simply wants to enable the Iranian people themselves to create the democratic change we all call for in a way which avoids another disastrous war in this troubled region of the world, and surely that must be in the interest of us all.