Independent – By Lord Corbett 1 December 2011
As Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the decision requiring all Iranian diplomatic staff to leave the country within 48 hours, the next question is: then what?
It is the failed policies of Britain and the West of attempted appeasement which have allowed Iran to believe it is acceptable for its paramilitary thugs to assault on the British Embassy in Tehran. The regime continues its flagrant breach of nuclear obligations all the while acting as the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the region. The attack on Tuesday on the British embassy was carried out by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on the personal orders of the mullahs’ Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Khamenei intends to prevent the imposition of a firm policy including international sanctions against his regime’s nuclear weapons projects through blackmail and threats. Assassinations, hostage-taking and attacks on diplomatic centres are all part of the mullahs’ modus operandi.
For far too long we have tried to cuddle up to Iran, in the vain hope that a policy of appeasement will identify moderates within the leadership circle and the regime will come in from the wilderness. The appeasement has come in many forms, from the development of economic ties to the burdening of Iran’s largest opposition group the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) with a terrorist label – removed two years ago following a humiliating defeat for the British government in our courts.
Yesterday we heard from David Miliband, former Foreign Secretary, who stated that the condemnations of Iran should not lead to “drumbeats of war”. He is right but the acceptance of the status quo is not tolerable. For far too long world leaders have given us two options for dealing with Iran – either a policy of rapprochement or military assault including a targeted attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Attempts at rapprochement continue to fail while war is never an answer.
There is a third and middle ground. This is a policy put forward by Mrs Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the NCRI, Iran’s Parliament in exile. This is a policy of sanctions against the core of the regime while supporting the democratic ambitions of those millions who cry freedom. Sanctions against Iran’s central bank was a positive step and these must now be intensified to squeeze the money flowing into Tehran’s nuclear programme and its support for terrorism. This coupled with support for democratic groups who oppose the regime, and the people of Iran can find the courage to bring about change.
However, there are urgent steps which must now be taken. William Hague is in Europe today to join the EU’s Council of Ministers to discuss international issues. High on the agenda of that meeting is the relations with Iran, but also the fate of 3,400 members of the Iranian opposition PMOI, based in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. These dissidents are under attack from Iran’s proxies in the Iraqi government, and Mr. Hague should call for their protection by UN forces.
William Hague told Parliament yesterday in relation to the attack on the British Embassy that “…such a flagrant breach of international responsibilities is totally unacceptable to the United Kingdom.” He must heed his own message and at today’s meeting call for a more robust policy towards the Iranian regime.
Comprehensive sanctions on the regime, including an oil embargo, though necessary, are not enough to stop Tehran from acquiring a nuclear bomb; the ultimate solution is regime change by the Iranian people and Resistance.