The Hague/Vienna, 26 November 2014 – The decision taken in Vienna on Monday to extend the nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers until June 2015 effectively means extending the Iranian regime’s license to carry on with its military interventions in Iraq and Syria and with its destabilisation policies in Lebanon and Yemen, the campaign group Naame Shaam said today.
The head of the campaign’s Research and Advocacy team, Shiar Youssef, said: “By extending the nuclear negotiations another seven months and not taking a tougher stance, Western powers have, once again, given in to the Iranian regime’s bullying tactics and shown they are not really willing to impose red lines on this out-of-control regime.”
“The extension of the nuclear talks effectively gives Sepah Pasdaran (the Iranian Revolutionary Guards) a green light to carry on with its destablisation policies in the region,” he added. “Western powers are letting down all the victims of the Iranian regime’s wars in Syria and Iraq, and letting the whole region descend into more chaos.”
Naame Shaam has been arguing that the Iranian regime is intervening in and destabilising Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen in an attempt to impose itself as a regional power that nobody can then stop from having the nuclear bomb. Sepah Pasdaran has been providing massive military and economic support to the Syrian and Iraqi regimes and to various Shia militias fighting on their behalf. It has also been financing and arming Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Huthi militias in Yemen as deterrents against any possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, the US administration has been following a strategy of ‘slowly bleeding’ Iran and its militias in the region because it believes that proxy wars against the Iranian regime there, coupled with crippling economic sanctions and falling oil prices, would eventually lead to Iran giving up its military nuclear dreams, or even to the collapse of the Iranian regime. But developments on the ground have proven this approach to be delusional and misguided.
Naame Shaam’s Campaign Director Fouad Hamdan said: “The US administration still insists on ignoring the interconnected reasons for the Iranian regime’s quest for nuclear weapons and its military interventions in the region. It still insists on turning a blind eye to what Sepah Pasdaran is really doing in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.”
“The US policy of ‘slowly bleeding’ Iran in the region comes at the disproportionate expense of ordinary people in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen,” he added. “It just cannot be in the interest of the US and its allies that these four states disintegrate, while sectarianism and extremism are on the rise in the whole region.”
Naame Shaam has been demanding that Western negotiators in Vienna tell their Iranian counterparts that economic sanctions on Iran will not be lifted until the Iranian regime completely gives up its military nuclear programme, ends its military and financial support to the Syrian regime and pulls all its militias out of Syria. The Iranian regime must also order Hezbollah Lebanon to disband its military wing and must end its support to the Huthi militias in Yemen. Only then a gradual lifting of economic sanctions against Iran should be considered.
“The Iranian regime must see clear and credible red lines to start seriously considering ending its interference in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere,” Hamdan said. “Unfortunately, the US administration does not currently appear to be willing to impose such red lines.”
Notes for editors:
1. Naame Shaam is a group of Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese activists and citizen-journalists that focuses on uncovering the role of the Iranian regime in Syria, www.naameshaam.org. Naame Shaam is supported by the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation, www.lawrules.org.
2. Earlier this month, Naame Shaam published an in-depth report on the role of the Iranian regime in the ongoing war in Syria. The key findings of the report, Iran in Syria: From an Ally of the Regime to an Occupying Force, include:
- The Syrian regime would have collapsed a long time ago if it was not for Iranian military and economic support. Iran has kept the Bashar al-Assad’s regime afloat by spending billions of dollars on weapons and fighters, as well as providing it with loans and credit lines worth billions of dollars.
- The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are in control of all major military operations in regime-held areas in Syria. They control the Syrian military and other Syrian paramilitary forces such as the National Defense Forces known as the “Shabbiha.” In May 2014, Sepah Pasdaran commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani said: “Bashar al-Assad is fighting this war [in Syria] as our deputy”. Regime-held areas in Syria are effectively occupied by Iran. The chief of Iran’s Sepah Qods force, General Qassem Soleimani, is the de facto ruler of Iranian-occupied Syria. Sepah Qods is the foreign arm of Sepah Pasdaran.
- The Iranian regime is complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria. There is sufficient evidence to open investigations and bring law suits against the Iranian political and military leadership for its role in many of these crimes, including the Ghouta chemical attack in August 2013 and the use of barrel bombs against civilians.
- The primary objective behind Iran’s war in Syria is to keep arms shipments flowing to Hezbollah in Lebanon via Syria, so that this militia remains a strong deterrent against any possible attack against Iran’s military nuclear programme. The arms shipments are today totally dependent on vulnerable land routes passing through Syria.
3. Links related to the report Iran in Syria: From an Ally of the Regime to an Occupying Force:
- The full report in English
- The report’s Executive Summary in Arabic
- The report’s Executive Summary in Persian
- Press release about the launch of the report in English
- Press release about the launch of the report in Arabic
- Press release about the launch of the report in Persian
- New Narrative and Policy Recommendations in English
- New Narrative and Policy Recommendations in Arabic