{mosimage}Global Politician, By Roger Gale MP: The war of words and actions between the Iranian regime and the US administration has been at the forefront of all Middle Eastern affairs since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, one incident in the last week brought this to our sharp attention.

Global Politician

By Roger Gale MP

{mosimage}The war of words and actions between the Iranian regime and the US administration has been at the forefront of all Middle Eastern affairs since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, one incident in the last week brought this to our sharp attention. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Strait of Hormuz were seen to have threatened a US naval fleet with what can only be described as extremely provocative actions. This most recent event occurs less than a year after 15 British sailors were detained in international waters by Iranian officials, taken to Iran and paraded on TV.

Ever since President Ahmedinejad came to power in 2005, analysts have poured over the issue of how much if any of the actions of the IRGC are commanded from the top of Iranian politics. The evidence throughout Ahmedinejad’s reign has been clear. Not only do the IRGC now command an enormous percentage of the Iranian economy, but they also control political matters at the highest level. President Ahmedinejad himself is a well known former commander of the IRGC and he has taken it upon himself to ensure that his Cabinet is filled with Revolutionary Guards from the top down. The appointment of Saeid Jalili to the post of Chief Nuclear Negotiator for Iran was the latest in a long line of appointments, which have given the IRGC command of Iranian matters from the internal to the external.

The IRGC was the creature of Ayatollah Khomeini, created for one task and one task only, to defend the regime from any change. This crucial role of the IRGC has not been lost by Khomeini’s successor Ayatollah Khamenei and he has been seen to use the IRGC on all fronts. Internally, the IRGC has been the tool in the brutal crackdown on women and students in Iran and the considerable increase in public executions in Iran. Externally, the IRGC and its international command unit, the Qods Force has been used to spread fundamentalism throughout the Middle East. In Iraq, the Qods has used its extensive support from the Iranian government to fund and supply the insurgents with the weaponry used to cause bloodshed in Iraq. However, its role does not lie simply in Iraq, it was seen as the great instigator of the recent war been Hezbollah and Israel and has had extensive influence in creating a fundamentalist ideology throughout the Middle East, which most recently lead to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan.

President Bush has taken his trip to the Middle East as an opportunity to indicate to the world that Iran was a threat and most definitely still remains a threat and will continue to be seen as one by the US administration. Some analysts have termed this as provocative and warmongering. However, from the evidence that we have all seen, I think that is without doubt that the Iranian regime is not only a threat to its own people, but it is a threat to the stability in the Middle East and the entire world.

Therefore, as politicians it is critical that we do not simply address the Iranian regime as a threat and offer no solution. Politicians and analysts look at this in two different ways. There is a group who have a belief that this regime is one that can be talked to and convinced by dialogue to change its ways and become a country which will play a positive role in the international community. This group now takes a stance that the US administration must offer unconditional dialogue to Iran. Not only does this option contain the bizarre belief that this regime wants to change, it also seems to take an extremely selective view of what has been occurring throughout the past 10 years.

The Iranian regime has been offered immense incentives by the US and EU and merely, to get the Iranians to abide by what they should already be doing under international law. This idea seems simply ludicrous. The Iranian regime was offered its first major incentive in 1997 by President Clinton. His administration in what has been termed by his own advisers as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to President Khatami, listed the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK/PMOI) as a terrorist organisation. This was followed by the same incentive being provided by Jack Straw in the UK in 2001 and the EU in 2002 under pressure to do so by Jack Straw . On the back of all of this has been the immense economic deals offered by the EU-3 in their nuclear negotiations with the Iranian regime. In light of all such incentives that have come and just as quickly been rejected by the Iranian regime, are we expected to view unconditional talks as the solution? I think not.

Appeasement of the Iranian regime is not the solution, it is the cause. This policy of appeasement is what has emboldened the regime to such an extent that it feels that it can hold the world to ransom over its nuclear weapons programme, it can assist in the murder of British and coalition troops in Iraq, it can cause destruction across the Middle East and at home and still the international community will stand weak in its path, asking politely if the regime will please change its ways.

The latest evidence of this policy lies with the UK Government’s reaction to the case of the PMOI which was heard before the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC). 35 MPs and Peers took the British Government to court over the labelling of the PMOI as a terrorist organisation and its refusal to remove the PMOI from its blacklist. They were successful, with the Court finding the Secretary of State’s decision ‘perverse’ and ‘flawed’, while ordering the Secretary of State to lay an order before Parliament removing the PMOI from the list.

The Government’s answer has been to appeal and attempt to prolong this policy of restraining the democratic Iranian opposition in order to please the world’s most dangerous regime. This is not only unjustified, it is simply bad politics. The solution to this crisis lies with the Iranian opposition and Maryam Rajavi the President-elect of the NCRI. They have the support both inside and outside Iran and the necessary ability to bring about that democratic change. Let us hope the British Government realises its errors and seizes the moment. The Iranian opposition and the Iranian people are the opportunity to solve this crisis. Restrain them and a further war in the region may loom on the horizon.
Roger Gale is a British MP. He's the former Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party.