January 20, 2018

Intensify pressure to control Iran threat

By Lord David Waddington

As the Obama administration works to increase international pressure on Iran over its continued nuclear defiance, it is paramount that the threat posed by the Iranian regime is dealt with on more than one front. If we are to put a meaningful political and economic squeeze on Tehran’s leaders, we cannot afford to look only at the nuclear aspect.

The regime is a genuine threat to world peace not only because of its defiance of world opinion over its nuclear program, but also because of both its despicable human rights record and its continuing interference in and determination to influence events in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Obama administration deserves praise for the efforts it is making to build support for a new wave of UN sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear defiance, and it is encouraging that there is international accord as to how to deal with the nuclear threat posed by the regime. Some countries continue to drag their feet, but the US has itself acted, with Congress passing the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act. With EU counterparts following in US footsteps, Iran will soon feel the consequences of its defiance of the international community, but it is essential that this round of UN sanctions is both tougher and strictly enforced so as to impact on Tehran’s leadership at both political and economic levels.

What is unfortunate is that while sanctions have undoubtedly brought pressure to bear on Tehran, the regime has still been able to influence Iraq’s decision makers and manipulate Iraqi electoral bodies. There are two individuals who demonstrate clearly enough Iran’s influence in Iraq. They are Ahmad Chalabi and incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki whose actions in sidelining Sunni electoral candidates show clearly enough their role as stooges of the Iranian regime and that the regime’s destructive influence in Iraq has to be destroyed.

The Iranian regime’s life blood flows from two sources, its nuclear program and its influence in Iraq. It is simply not enough to deal with just one of those sources and allow the regime another outlet from the pressure of sanctions. Dealing with the Iranian threat in Iraq is an essential part of dealing with Iran as a threat to the international community.

Finally comes the third point of this policy triangle, the role played by Iran’s opposition movement and the prospects of the Iranian people succeeding in their struggle for democracy and freedom. The largest organised Iranian opposition movement is the Mujahedeen e Khalq (MEK) based in Ashraf City, Iraq. Although the MEK’s widespread network and its integral role in recent protests has made the group greatly feared by Tehran’s leadership, the MEK is maintained on a list of US banned organisations. However, having succeeded in its legal battle to be delisted in the UK and EU, the MEK has now begun a legal battle to be delisted in the US. The decisions in the UK and EU leave little doubt that the US ban on the MEK is unjust, and it is essential that in the struggle against the threats posed by the Iranian regime the Obama administration should delist the MEK. Doing so will meet the demands of justice, and it will allow Iran’s opposition movement to move forward and help to bring more pressure on the Iranian regime.

In short, there is need now not only for sanctions, but for steps to diminish Iranian influence in Iraq and remove the pressure on Iran’s democratic opposition movement. With that three point policy the Iranian threat can be contained and the interests of the people of Iran can be served. 

Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington GCVO DK QC is a former Home Secretary of the United Kingdom.

(View Source – The Hill)