Cross-party Members of the Parliament, Middle East and terrorism experts and representatives of various Anglo-Iranian Associations discussed the Iranian regime’s destabilising activities in the region and the future of popular protests in Iran at a meeting in the Parliament on Tuesday, 24 October.

The Iranian regime is actively fomenting another war in the Middle East to secure its own survival in Tehran, speakers explained during the meeting, as it has been unable to crush the popular uprising and growing demands for genuine, democratic change despite a year of violent state crackdown and record number of executions.

They agreed that the UK must respond by adopting a firm policy on Iran that holds the regime to account for its terrorism and warmongering while also supporting the democratic aspirations and Resistance of the Iranian people.

Speakers were unanimous in their call to the UK Government to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (NCRI) and in their support for the protest led by the women of Iran.

Prof. Lord Alton of Liverpool, co-president of the British Committee for Iran Freedom, who chaired the meeting, said:

“The export of terrorism and the destabilising the Middle East and beyond have been a key feature in the Iranian regime’s playbook to secure its survival and iron grip on power at home. Be in no doubt, the regime knows that the people of Iran and their democratic aspirations is the one serious threat to its totalitarian theocracy.

“It is, therefore, crucial to understand that one of the most pressing geopolitical challenges unfolding in the Middle East today is the struggle between the religious dictatorship and the people of Iran over who should rule Iran. Events unfolding in Iran and the region during the last year should convince those who still doubt this fact.

“For four decades, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has been acting as a parliament-exile to advance the struggle for a democratic change in Iran.

“NCRI President-elect, Mrs Rajavi has put forward a ten-point democratic platform for the future, which contains the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people and offers a true and viable popularly supported alternative to the current regime.”

“Mrs Rajavi’s platform is gaining recognition and support in Western parliaments and among political leaders and experts because it embraces the democratic values of our society”, Lord Alton said as he introduced NCRI President-elect.

In her video message to the meeting, Mrs Rajavi emphasised that the regime “has been the most significant obstacle to Middle East peace over the past three decades” and said:

“I have emphasised many times since two decades ago that the regime's warmongering in the region is one hundred times more dangerous than its nuclear programme.

“Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards have started a vicious war in the Middle East to escape their overthrow. If it were not for this regime, the current war would not have happened. The regime pretends to defend the cause of Palestinians while in reality the regime is their enemy.

“Khamenei has stated that if he does not fight in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, he must fight with protesters in Tehran and other Iranian cities.

“Unfortunately, the western countries have ignored three decades of warnings and revelations of the Iranian Resistance about the regime’s warmongering, particularly the role of the IRGC and the terrorist Quds Force and its proxies.

“Since two decades ago, we have insisted that the IRGC must be designated as a terrorist entity. Any delay in this regard will enable the IRGC to increase its influence, pursue its nuclear projects using European facilities, export terrorism and warmongering, and have access to equipment used for suppression in Iran.”

Regarding the continued protests across Iran and the country’s future, Mrs Rajavi, said:

“The clerical regime has realised that it is in the phase of being overthrown.

“The current situation in Iran has four important features, repressive mobilisation to prevent the next uprising; Strong public anger; the expansion of PMOI Resistance Units in dozens of cities; and the IRGC’s warmongering abroad.

“More than 600 individuals have been executed in Iran since January 2023. Last Friday, security forces opened fire and tear-gas on people and children in Zahedan, and arrested hundreds. These events have further frightened the regime from the next uprising.

“Over the past year, the PMOI Resistance Units carried out over 3,000 anti-repression operations. Various sectors of society organised thousands of strikes and protests.”

The NCRI President-elect called on the UK Parliament and Government to “recognise the Iranian people's struggle to overthrow the regime and the legitimate fight of Iranian youths against the IRGC.”

Professor Walid Phares, the Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counterterrorism and National Security and Foreign Policy advisor to several US Presidential candidates, joined the meeting from the US via video link.

Briefing the cross-party Members of Parliament and other participants on the regime’s malign intervention and support for terrorism, Professor Walid Phares, said:

“Since the Mahsa Amini killing and all of the revolts, demonstrations and protests that we've seen inside Iran, every region of Iran and around the world, that is the threat to the regime more than anything else in the region.

“What we see right now in the Middle East is organised by the Iran regime using various arms, Hamas at first, then it is going to move to Hezbollah depending on what happens on the ground, then into the Southern Syrian battlefield. Just mark those points because this is in the making. They are preparing their militias in Southern Syria and obviously in Iraq. The goal of it is to save the regime.

“My recommendations are: first, designate the Pasdaran (IRGC). Second, support the resistance. And supporting the resistance means also recognising all the opposition movements and inviting them to speak to parliaments, to Congress, and eventually to the United Nations.”

Bob Blackman CBE MP, co-president of the International Committee of Parliamentarians for a Democratic Iran (ICPDI) said:

“In the Parliament, there’s serious concerns about not only the regime in Tehran, but how it reaches out to its tentacles across the Middle East and into this country as well.

“Our Government should proscribe the IRGC, which is the settled view of the House of Commons on all the political parties. When you are dealing with terrorists, it is very simple, you just cannot give into them.

“Protesters in Iran have been chanting, no to Gaza, no to Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran.

“We have got to make sure that we have a very firm policy on Iran. Instead of rewarding [the regime] for terrorism and warmongering … all democratic countries must unite behind the brave people of Iran and give them their opportunity.

“The only credible organisation that can do that is the NCRI. The only credible person that I have ever come across to do with Iran is Madam Rajavi. We must tell the mullahs in unequivocal terms, their time is up. They must succumb to the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people. We have got the democratic alternative and that can be an outstanding success.

“So our government should be recognising the Iranian people's right to defend themselves against the IRGC and the other suppressive forces, recognising the NCRI and Madam Rejavi as the democratic alternative to the regime, and Ashraf 3 as a bastion of a free and democratic Iran.”

Alex Sobel MP said:

“The proscription of the IRGC here is a minimum action …  The UK's strongest role is its financial centre and should close down [regime’s] abilities to move money in and out of the United Kingdom to trade, to process their own financial institutions.

“My experience of Iran and my personal story of Iran in recent times is the same story that Maryam Rajavi told.

“The vision we see from the NCRI and Maryam Rajavi is that Iran can become a force for good in the world, instead of a force which is destabilising the world and is the cause of millions of deaths. How much better a world would we have? ”

Jim Shannon MP said:

“The continued policy of appeasement in recent years, has emboldened the regime to widen its influence, to believe that it can go further in destroying the lives of so many, with little or no consequences, and to limit the rights of dissidents in exile. Enough is enough.

“Today, I echo the Iranian people’s call for a democratic republic and I provide my full support for Maryam Rajavi’s 10 point-plan. Let us all redouble our efforts so that the images we see today will never be seen again.”

Marie Rimmer MP paid tribute to the indomitable spirit of Iranian women and said that “their courage and spirit will not be crushed” but will usher in democratic change.

In a message to the meeting, Mary Glindon MP said:

“[I] convey my solidarity with the Iranian people, striving for a free and democratic state, and assure them of my commitment to support your good work in any way I can.”

Azadeh Zabeti, co-president of the Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers in the UK and Mosa Zahed, founding director of Middle East Forum for Development, also spoke at the meeting.

They stressed that the UK and the West should acknowledge the struggle of the Iranian people to change the regime and to establish a free and democratic Iran and back the organised opposition.

They also asked the UK Government to proscribe the IRGC to stop the regime’s destabilising activities and intervention in the region.

Lord Lucas; the Rt Hon. the Lord Whitty; and Baroness Meyer CBE, member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, also attended the meeting.

British Committee for Iran Freedom

24 October 2023