We must continue to speak out against the barbaric Iranian regime
In October, the government implemented further sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses responsible for supplying Russia with kamikaze drones used to bombard Ukraine. In response the Iranian government has announced sanctions against five British MPs, including myself.
The reality of this designation is a ban on my being able to visit Iran and any property or assets under the jurisdiction of Iran could be seized. As I have none, and don’t intend to holiday in Iran, the action of sanctioning me is simple political posturing. Most telling is that the Iranian authorities couldn’t even spell my name correctly. By using an online translation app, the regime shows a lack of attention to detail that undoubtedly extends into all their activities. But what the designation demonstrates is that my repeated condemnation and highlighting of activities has hit home.
Extra-judicial killings alongside public executions show how out of control the Iranian regime has become
Politicians dislike being ignored more than anything else and such a response is a political success. This was confirmed by the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, when he said in response to the designation that being named on the list should be "a badge of honour".
This designation will be recognised in many other countries. In November, the Manama Conference was held in Bahrain. Attend by ambassadors, ministers, politicians and policymakers from around the world, topics have traditionally focussed on issues of concern to Gulf countries. The cost of energy, war in Ukraine, Middle East geo-politics and Islamic fundamentalism were the kind of issues that I thought would be top of the agenda, but I was wrong. The opening contributions referenced the biggest threat facing the Arab world – Iran.
Described by speaker after speaker as a global danger, delegates were warned about Iran’s increasing use of cyber-attacks. Our own Parliament has been targeted, alongside civil infrastructure in Albania – on the same weekend that an Iranian opposition group was holding its conference in the country.
Iran has supplied weapons being used in Ukraine in direct violation of the 2015 Security Council Resolution, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran. These same weapons have been used elsewhere. A shipping tanker was attacked in mid-November off the coast of Oman by the same type of weapon in an incident that the Foreign Office noted Iranian involvement. Since 2015, when the JCPOA nuclear deal released $100bn of overseas financial assets, Iranian involvement in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria escalated, political instability increased in Iraq and Lebanon and the nuclear programme in Iran continued – including ballistic missile tests.
But it is not these international events that could bring down the Iranian regime. The scenes of female-led demonstrations, following the brutal killing of Mahsa Amini for not wearing a hijab, has revealed a deep-rooted opposition to the rule of the clerical regime. Continuing protests could lead to the end of the Khomeini era, but it would involve even more bloodshed than has already occurred. The horrifying execution of young protesters, Mohsen Shekari and Majidreza Rahnavard following expedited and grossly unfair sham trials, shows how the authorities are acting on public threats to expedite capital proceedings and carry out executions in an attempt to instil fear in the public.
Such a scenario requires people to speak out and condemn the barbarism that is occurring in one of the noblest countries in the world. Extra-judicial killings alongside public executions show how out of control the Iranian regime has become. Being sanctioned by a such regime is incomparable to the horrors people are facing day to day.
One day I may visit Iran, but this regime will not be in political control. That day may be coming sooner as I will continue to speak on this issue – sanction or no sanction.
Matthew Offord, Conservative MP for Hendon.
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