David Waddington: We must cut our ties with Iran until the suppression is halted

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Last week's anti-government rallies in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere show that the situation in Iran remains explosive and makes nonsense of the regime's claims that the protests are over. In the end, despite a call by presidential candidate and former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi for Iranians to avoid further action on the street, Iranians in their thousands broke through chains of Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary Bassij forces to rally in central Tehran and other major cities.

The protests on 9 July were sparked by a rift at the top of the regime over the presidential "election", but as people poured into streets, the calls became much more radical and changed from condemnation of the rigging of the election to a demand for regime change. Many in the West had argued that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ran a stable regime. The professed stability turned out to be a charade.

Mike Gapes MP, of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, was right when he told Parliament last week that Western leaders should not fool themselves that engagement with the regime will lead to changes in its behaviour. After talks in L'Aquila last week, the leaders of the G8 nations said they were "seriously concerned about recent events in Iran"; adding feebly that in September they would "take stock of the situation". How can it be right for our leaders to give more time to the mullahs to murder their people and build a nuclear bomb with which to threaten us all? Military action is not a solution, but we can stop paying the regime for blood-drenched barrels of oil. Sanctions need to be tightened by the EU and UN Security Council. Diplomatic ties with the regime must be severed until suppression is halted and political prisoners are freed.

Western leaders should heed the advice of Iranian Resistance leader Maryam Rajavi who for years has reiterated that the Iranian crisis has an Iranian solution. All that is required is moral and political support from the West.

Lending moral support to the Iranian people and their Resistance to bring about democratic change combines ethical decision-making with smart politics.

Lord David Waddington QC is a former Home Secretary