Sunday Telegraph: Recent events have again highlighted the most baffling riddle of our foreign policy. Why, in striking contrast to the new hard line of Washington, is the European Union, led by the British Government, going out of its way to appease the brutal and fanatical regime whose terrorist activities do more than anything else to destabilise the Middle East, from the Lebanon to Afghanistan? The Sunday Telegraph
Christopher Booker’s notebook
By Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph
Recent events have again highlighted the most baffling riddle of our foreign policy. Why, in striking contrast to the new hard line of Washington, is the European Union, led by the British Government, going out of its way to appease the brutal and fanatical regime whose terrorist activities do more than anything else to destabilise the Middle East, from the Lebanon to Afghanistan?
Iran has been stepping up its reign of terror at home, hanging scores of its own people, many in public (corpses dangling from cranes were recently placed outside the Australian and Japanese embassies in Teheran).
And, as President Bush confirmed last week, its Revolutionary Guards are now the chief source of men and materiel to the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have also recently supplied further aid to Hezbollah, to prepare for a new war in Lebanon.
Hence the reports in Washington that the US government is about to proscribe the Revolutionary Guards, with their external Qods assassination squads, as a terrorist organisation.
The Guards act directly under Iran’s Supreme, Leader Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was formerly a senior Guards commander.
Washington has taken a much more sympathetic line lately to the main Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which for 30 years has campaigned for a democratic, secular state, and more than 100,000 of whose supporters have been killed by the Guards.
After a lengthy investigation, the US authorities found no evidence for placing the largest group in the NCRI, the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), on its list of terrorist organisations.
All this is in startling contrast to the record of the EU, and our own Government in particular. In 2001, the British Government led the way in proscribing the PMOI (at the bidding of the Teheran regime, as Jack Straw explained last year). When the rest of the EU followed suit, the European Court of Justice last December ruled that it had acted unlawfully.
But in January, at Britain’s behest, the EU’s Council of Ministers agreed to ignore the judgment. A thousand parliamentarians from all over Europe protested, including more than 100 members of our own Parliament, but the Council of Ministers again agreed, in June, to flout the ECJ’s ruling.
Astonishingly, this leaves us not only prohibiting, in flagrant breach of EU law, the chief body that campaigns peacefully for a democratic Iran, but explicitly doing so to appease a regime which itself orchestrates terrorism, supplying the rockets and roadside bombs that are killing British and other allied troops.
In a statement to this column last week, the NCRI’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, who lives in exile in France, in constant fear of assassination by the Revolutionary Guards, said: “The unlawful decision by the EU on June 28, 2007 to maintain the PMOI on its list of terrorist organisations gave a green light to the regime to expedite the killing of prisoners in Iran. By erecting cranes that bring Iran’s youth to their death, Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and other criminal leaders of this regime have challenged the dignity of humankind.”
Calling on the UN Security Council to take action, Mrs Rajavi went on to say that “conscientious people around the world must blame this policy of appeasement for giving the ruling fascists and their henchmen free reins to put the noose around the necks of young people”.
Washington may be getting the message. But when our Government is actually to the forefront in promoting that policy of appeasement, even though this is also leading directly to the deaths of our countrymen, can there be any hope that sanity and decency will prevail?