Joint Conference by BPCIF and EIFA in the House of Commons; Comprehensive report on Iraq
At a conference in the House of Commons on Wednesday, 18th March, Iraq experts and cross party panellists from both Houses of Parliament discussed the current crisis in Iraq and the essential components for a successful policy to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias.
The conference's keynote speaker Struan Stevenson, who chaired the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014) and President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), presented his comprehensive report on Iraq which concludes that Iran’s strategy for regional supremacy has facilitated the rise of extremist groups like ISIS.
“The Iranian regime has manipulated the current crisis to spread their theocratic domain across large swathes of Iraq, under the pretext that they are protecting sacred Shiia shrines and fighting a war against terrorists…Yet, ironically, the inspiration for all of these jihadist groups is the theocratic regime in Iran”, said Struan Stevenson.
He expressed his concerns regarding the ensuing offensive on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, arguing that “Thousands of innocent civilians will be killed in the ensuing aerial and artillery bombardment” and warned that “Even if the combined Iraqi military and Shiia militias eventually recapture Mosul, it will be at such cost in Sunni lives that the flames of sectarian conflict will be fanned and may engulf the Middle East.”
Struan Stevenson concluded that “The only way to eradicate ISIS is to recruit the Sunni tribes. They rose up once before and defeated al-Qaeda during the American “surge”. They can do so again, but only if their hated enemies – the Shiia militias are driven from Iraq… By backing Shiia paramilitary forces in Iraq, Tehran breaches UN Security Council's arms embargo aiming to divert attentions from the domestic crisis and to crush the Iranian people's aspiration for democratic change. It is madness for the Americans to support Iran in this catastrophic adventure.”
Others attending the conference were: the Rt Hon. David Jones MP, former Secretary of State for Wales; Sir David Amess MP, Co-chair of the the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF); Dr Tahar Boumedra, former UN Human Rights Chief in Iraq; Steve McCabe MP; Sir Roger Gale MP; the Rt Hon. Lord Dholakia; and the Lord Maginnis of Drumglass.
The speakers warned that if Iran and its supported Shi'ite militias were to further dominate Iraq, the current fight against ISIS will turn into an endless bloody sectarian war that further destabilise the whole region.
“A clear UK strategy in Iraq, in order to succeed, must include the provisions set out in the EDM343 Iraq and Camp Liberty that states, the rejection of Iran's intervention by the new Iraqi government is vital for the promotion of democracy in that country”, David Jones MP, who together with over 110 MPs supported this parliamentary motion, said.
“A good indication of this is the way it treats Ashraf residents now at Camp Liberty near Baghdad; and urges the government of Iraq to lift the current inhumane siege on the camp, recognising this camp as a UN refugee camp and guarantee the safety, security and the rights of its residents”, he added.
Sir David Amess MP raised the BPCIF's concern over the alarming situation at Camp Liberty and said “if for whatever reason the International Community, the UN or the US are unwilling to step in to provide protection for the defenceless Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty, then the only moral and honest thing to do is to at least provide them with the means so that they can protect themselves and their home against aggressions by the Quds-force and Iranian-backed militias, that are gaining grounds in Iraq.”
The Rt Hon. Lord Dholakia said, “Our indecisiveness in Iraq has embolden the Iranian regime as some of the same Iranian-backed militias who attack the Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty are committing unspeakable atrocities under the pretext of fighting ISIS. I support what the other speakers said here today and I believe that here should be justice for the defenceless refugees in Camp Liberty and the Iraqi people by prosecution of those involved in atrocities against them, including the former PM, Nouri al-Maliki.”
Steve McCabe MP, said, “the Iranian regime and ISIS are two side of the same coin. They do not respect freedom, human rights nor civil liberties. So the only deal we should have with Tehran is a deal that secures freedom, democracy, human rights and women's rights in Iran.”
Dr Boumedra said, “the Iraqi government cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation into previous attacks on camps Ashraf and Liberty and killing the defenceless residents there. There must be a UN-led inquiry to establish the truth.”
For Mr Stevenson 's report on Iraq: “Iran’s strategy for regional supremacy has facilitated the rise of ISIS” presented at this conference, please visit the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) website http://eu-iraq.org
British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
18 March 2015