Turning to Iran’s human rights record under Hassan Rouhani, Sir David notes that in “the past three years alone, the Iranian regime has carried out over 2,400 executions,” earning the regime the sobriquet, “top executioner per capita in the world.”
The Forbes piece quotes Rouhani’s public comments in 2014 on the subject: these executions are “God’s commandments.” These are words which, as Sir David points out, are a very bad fit with the Iranian President’s promise of reform: brutality continues to run through the Iranian penal system from flogging, for such “offences” as mixed socialising, to forced amputations.
That this level of human rights abuses should elicit “little more than a shrug from the West,” is not just weak ethics, the Forbes piece continues, but it is also bad policy. Sir David gives examples, from Rwanda to North Korea to Syria, where a lack of moral fibre, and thus timely intervention, has had, not only consequences for those countries, but also for states in the West.
Forbes outlines Iranian policy. Iran is propping up the Assad regime, and thus helping to unleash ISIS. It is continuing to “push towards nuclear weapons” with “public ballistic missile tests.” It sees terrorism as the primary tool in pursuit of its overseas goals. The ideology of fundamentalism and the logic of regime survival propels Iran to be as aggressive abroad as it is at home. For this reason, Sir David asserts, “We can’t ignore Iran.”
That is not to say, the Forbes piece continues, that war is the solution; rather the cure involves “empowering the Iranian people themselves to embrace a democratic system we already know they support.”
“The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is the largest organized opposition to Iran’s current theocracy,” Sir David says. They espouse “a free and democratic Iran that fosters separation of church and state, a moderate and progressive Islam,” as well as “friendly ties” with the international community and “an embrace of international norms.”
Appealing for the Iranian voice to be heard, Sir David notes that, on July 9 in Paris, a mass Free Iran rally will see “a stellar bipartisan list of American dignitaries” join with both the NCRI and the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK) in discussing solutions to the problem of Iran. Those solutions include, the Forbes article continues, “heightened economic sanctions on the theocratic leaders and those responsible for human rights abuses in Iran, a recognition of Iran’s human rights record and violent foreign policy, along with approaches vis-à-vis the nuclear program that are better adapted to an Iran that has time and again deceived the international community.”