26 May 2019
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Speech by Struan Stevenson, The Italian Senate, Rome 18th December 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014 20:54

EUROPEAN IRAQI FREEDOM ASSOCIATION

 

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN IRAN & IRAQ

THURSDAY 18th DECEMBER 2014

THE ITALIAN SENATE, ROME

 

It has been admitted that US airstrikes against ISIS cannot and will not lead to the defeat of the Islamic State. They are designed to bolster the fight on the ground by the Iraqi military, the Peshmerga and more ominously, the Shiia militias. The Peshmerga, as a Kurdish military force is contained in Northern Iraq. They are being armed and supplied by the West and are fighting courageously to reclaim territory lost to ISIS. The Iraqi army, on the other hand, is in a state of virtual collapse. Riven with dishonesty and fraud, it mirrors the chaotic and rampant corruption of the Iraqi government in post-Saddam Iraq.

 

These circumstances have provided the perfect conditions for the Shiia militias to thrive. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of these militias. They are trained, financed and often led by the terrorist Iranian Quds Force. They are Iranian proxies. So the US air strikes are aiding and abetting Iran in achieving its ultimate objective, which is total control of Iraq. This situation was unintentionally bolstered by a fatwa issued by Iraq’s senior Shiia Cleric Ayatollah Sistani, who said that Iraqis had a duty to defend their country. He actually intended his fatwa to encourage people to join the Iraqi army, but in fact tens of thousands flocked to join the Shiia militias, finding themselves quickly under the command of the IRGC – Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps – the praetorians of fundamentalist Islam.

 

Iran is now well on the way to extending its hegemony across the entire region and it is worth remembering that ISIS is not the only organisation intent on using violence and bloodshed to create a worldwide Islamic caliphate; it is a core principle of the Iranian Constitution, drawn up by Ayatollah Khomenei, that they will export the Islamic revolution with the clear intention of creating an Islamic caliphate. Tehran regards ISIS as direct Sunni competitors in this struggle to enslave the world in a medieval corruption of the Muslim faith.

 

The current war raging across Iraq was as avoidable as it was predictable. When I was elected President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq five years ago, I warned that Nouri al-Maliki’s second term as Prime Minister, insisted upon by Iran and supported by the US, was a tragedy for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the world. As a puppet of the Iranian mullahs, he encouraged the Iranian-led Shiia militias and used them to enforce his merciless "iron fist" sectarian policy of indiscriminate bombing, shelling, arbitrary arrests, torture and mass execution of innocent Sunni civilians.

 

The number of executions in Iraq rose to record heights and an increasing number of political opponents found themselves faced with trumped-up charges of terrorism. These issues, along with the already devastated state of Iraq, added greatly to the staggering casualties and destruction following the illegal invasion and occupation in 2003. But we in the West stood aside and allowed Maliki, as a puppet of Tehran, to remain in office and now we are witnessing the results of this catastrophic policy.

 

I warned again and again that Maliki’s reign would lead to civil war. But mine was almost a lone voice. Maliki even called a press conference in Baghdad to denounce me as a liar and an enemy of Iraq. He sent an envoy to Brussels to ask me what it would take to get me to shut up. I told him that the only thing that would make me shut up would be his resignation and indictment for crimes against humanity. As I highlighted repeatedly, Maliki utilised the claim of fighting a war against terror to secure his grip on power and the West fell for it, even although his war on terror was, in fact, a war against his predominantly Sunni political opponents.

 

The sudden emergence of ISIS became a convenient focal point enabling Maliki to accelerate his sectarian campaign against his political foes. Indeed the reason ISIS made such rapid and spectacular gains across large tranches of Iraq was because they faced little or no resistance from the Sunni tribes, who often preferred the Islamic State to the brutal Iranian-led militias that had been terrorizing them for years.

 

When Maliki came to power, step by step his government distanced itself from Washington and got closer to Tehran. A clear indication of this was Maliki’s approach towards the main Iranian Opposition, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran. 3500 PMOI members had lived in Iraq for almost 25 years. They had built a small, modern city called ‘Ashraf’ out of the desert in Diyala Province. But from the first day after the fall of Saddam, Tehran had conspired to massacre their arch foe and to annihilate Ashraf and in Nouri al-Maliki they found a willing tool.

 

As the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, it handed over the protection of Ashraf to Maliki’s government, having first signed an agreement with each and every individual resident of Ashraf, guaranteeing their safety and security in return for the surrender of their weapons. This amounted to signing the death warrant for these defenceless residents. The predictable outcome materialised in the form of six brutal massacres during the years 2009 to 2013.

 

We warned the US, UN and EU again and again that these massacres would take place. But our cries fell on deaf ears. We were told not to rock the boat and not to do anything that might upset the delicate nuclear talks in Tehran. What an utter joke. It was the PMOI who first revealed the fact that the mullahs were enriching uranium and building a nuclear weapon and 12 years later we are still talking, extending deadline after deadline so that the mullahs can buy time and achieve their final goal of domination of the Middle East.

 

The West must wake up to the fact that any cooperation and alliance with Iran to fight ISIS is extremely dangerous and will turn this war into a sectarian war between the Shiites and Sunnis, and even if it is temporarily suppressed, it will again surge and will encase the region for decades. To overcome the Islamic state, it needs a cultural and religious alternative that can defy the violent, fanatic and extremist view of Islam, be it of the Sunni type like ISIS or the of the Shiite type like the Iranian regime and its affiliated groups. The PMOI and Maryam Rajavi's democratic and tolerant version of Islam, can play a vital role in isolating the Iranian regime and its twisted Islamic Ideology inside Iran.

 

Lawlessness, terrorism, corruption and the systematic abuse of human rights are each a daily feature of life in Iraq. The World Bank lists Iraq as having one of the worst qualities of governance in the world. ‘Transparency International’ lists Iraq as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. It has a dreadful human rights record and now is in third place after only China and neighbouring Iran in the number of people it executes. In spite of vast oil revenues, per capita income is only $1,000 per year, making it one of the world’s poorest countries. The situation for women in Iraq is dire. Women are subject to rape, attack and violence. Iraq has 5 million widows and 5 million orphans, but only 120,000 receive state aid. A widow's average benefit is in any case only $85 per month and average rent is $200 per month.

 

The world now looks to Haider al-Abadi to take control and restore order inside Iraq. He must begin by rounding up the savage militias associated with the Iranian regime such as the Badr, Asaib and Kataib terrorists, as well as other criminal gangs that have played a significant role in Maliki’s rule and instigated the sectarian war in Iraq. He must purge the army of Iranian mercenaries and all those that Maliki recruited under his sectarian policy, restoring patriotic officers and turning it into a professional and national army. Only such an army, supported by the tribes and the people will be able to confront extremist and terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS).

 

The new Prime Minister should also disclose to the Iraqi people the names of those who carried out the executions, massacres, bombardment and rocket attacks against innocent people and those responsible for poverty and state corruption; all should be held accountable in the courts. He must re-establish the independence of the Judiciary, dismissing those who have turned Iraq’s justice system into a political tool wielded by Maliki.

 

He must also arrest and hold to account the perpetrators of the six massacres at Camps Ashraf and Liberty that led to the violent death of 116 people and the wounding and maiming of hundreds more. He must order the lifting of the inhuman siege, especially the medical siege, against Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty and guarantee their rights and security and their right to ownership of their property at Liberty and Ashraf.

 

The new Iraqi government should prepare the ground for an early free and fair democratic election under UN supervision to restore true sovereignty to the people’s representatives. I certainly hope that Dr al-Abadi will take rapid steps towards implementing these measures to fulfil the wishes of all the people of Iraq. This way, he will enjoy the full support of the world community and particularly the EU. He now has in his hands the historic role of saving Iraq or presiding over its total disintegration.

But let us look at the situation in Iran. The plummeting oil price has caused a massive problem for the mullahs. Their future budget was predicated on oil prices rising from $112 to $130 a barrel. Today it has fallen to $60 and experts predict it will fall to $45. This, combined with Western sanctions, is catastrophic for Tehran who currently fund not only the Shiia militias in neighbouring Iraq, but Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Bashir al-Assad in Syria and the Shiite Houthi militia who seized Sanaa, the Yemeni capital in September; they also have to finance the hugely expensive programme of uranium enrichment, the construction of nuclear weapons and the purchase of sophisticated delivery systems.

The so-called ‘moderate’ President Rouhani, who has presided over the execution of an unprecedented 1200 people since he took office only 17 months ago, has found himself in an impossible trap. He was elected on a pledge to improve the economy and to improve living conditions for ordinary Iranians. But the hardliners in Tehran live off the back of the billions poured into the IRGC. Despite the collapsing oil price, Rouhani last week announced a 50% increase in the IRGC budget, taking their total annual spend to over €5 billion, which is more than half of Iran’s total defence budget which itself was increased by 33% last week.   Buried in the small print of the budget was a further €2.5 billion that will go directly to the IRGC’s construction and engineering wing known as Khatam al-Anbia, a crooked vehicle for distributing largesse to the IRGC hierarchy.

Iran simply cannot afford this. The 74 million Iranians are facing economic meltdown. The people are fed up. They don’t want to be international pariahs. They don’t want to witness people hanging from cranes in their city squares. They don’t want acid thrown in the faces of women for so-called ‘mal-veiling’. There is a seething undercurrent of protest in the air. Bread prices rose by 30% last week and the likelihood of another popular uprising is looming. But this time the West must support the Iranian people and not stand back and watch while they are shot down in the street like dogs. We must help them to overthrow the tyrannical mullahs and restore freedom, peace and democracy to Iran and not stand idly by on the sidelines while the brave student protest-leaders are rounded up, arrested, tortured and executed.

 

 

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