Struan Stevenson: Iranian regime must be evicted from Syria and Iraq

Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, has said that the Iranian regime’s involvement in Syria is increasing on a daily basis, but despite this rigorous mobilisation, Tehran has “reached a deadly impasse in Syria with mounting casualties and little sign of progress”, reports the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

In The Hill on Saturday he wrote that there are now over 60,000 Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) troops, 8,000 of which are from the terrorist Qods force and thousands of mercenaries from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan.

Mr. Stevenson said that the Iranian regime has become so deeply entangled in the Bashar al-Assad affair that they have had to deploy the 65th Brigade (known as Nohed or Green Berets), another brigade of the Iranian army. This highlights their desperation in trying to stop the overthrow of Assad.

He pointed out that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who has personal representatives in all 31 provinces of Iran, has appointed a senior mullah as his personal representative in Syria. Mr. Stevenson said that this supports the idea that “the Iranian regime regards Syria as its 32nd Province, the defeat of which would be a major body blow to Tehran”.

The increase in Iranian meddling in Syria has led to a rise in casualties, something which Mr. Stevenson said is “causing growing public disquiet in Iran”. There have been thousands of Iranian soldiers and over 40 IRGC generals killed. The Iranian regime, fearful of a backlash from “their increasingly demoralized IRGC troops” is resorting to desperate measure to recruit for the Syrian front line. He said that the IRGC recently released a video in an attempt to recruit child and teenage soldiers. The video, which Mr. Stevenson describes as sickening, shows uniformed children wearing helmets singing “On my leader Ali Khamenei’s orders I am ready to give my life. The goal is not just to free Iraq and Syria. My path is through the sacred shrine in Syria, but my goal is to reach Jerusalem”.

He also highlighted the case of Afghan refugees. There are over 1.5 million living in Iran, and a high percentage of those are without ID and papers. Khamenei is offering them up to $600 per month and full Iranian citizenship on their return, or full citizenship for their families if they are killed in exchange for agreeing to fight in Syria.

Mr. Stevenson pointed out that despite such rigorous mobilisation, the Iranian regime is making very little progress in Syria and is racking up the number of casualties. “The original objective of defeating the Free Syrian Army and occupying its strongholds like Aleppo, with the help of Russian air strikes, has failed. Russia has begun to pull out and Khamenei is panicking. Recently, the commander of the Qods Force – General Qasem Soleimani, was sent to Moscow to plead with Putin for more Russian intervention.”

Western appeasement of the clerical fascist regime in Iran, he said, has “contributed directly to the Syrian nightmare and to the creation of ISIS”. The Iranian regime’s support for Assad has paved the way for the rise of ISIS. He said: “Iran’s puppet regime in neighbouring Iraq, under the genocidal control of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, opened the door for ISIS to seize great swathes of Iraqi territory. As a result, Europe now faces its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, as the civil conflict in Syria spirals out of control.”

Mr. Stevenson called on the US, the UN and the EU to “wake up to the fact that the only way to resolve the political and humanitarian crisis in Syria is to back the immediate removal of Assad. Obama has a key role to play in this scenario in the closing months of his presidency. His foot-dragging on Syrian intervention while simultaneously signing nuclear deals with the Iranian regime has poured petrol on the flames of conflict and de-stabilised the Middle East.”

He said that we must now acknowledge that the Iranian regime’s interference in Syria and Iraq is central to the conflict. This message will be reiterated at the “Free Iran” international gathering in Paris on 9th July. This event is expected to draw around 100,000 participants – hundreds of which will be politicians from various political factions throughout Europe, the Middle East and the US.

Mr. Stevenson said that the Iranian regime must be “evicted from both Syria and Iraq if we are to open a pathway to peace”.