Tehran/Damascus/Beirut, 7 July 2014
Your Excellency, US Secretary of State John Kerry,
Your Excellency, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius,
Your Excellency, UK Secretary of State William Hague,
Your Excellency, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier,
I am writing to you on behalf of the campaign group Naame Shaam regarding the current round of negotiations with Iran about its nuclear programme, which are scheduled to end on 20 July 2014.
Naame Shaam (نامه شام), or “Letters from Syria”, is a group of Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese activists and citizen-journalists who work to raise awareness about the Iranian regime’s policies and involvement in Syria. We monitor and debunk the pro-Syrian regime propaganda coming from the Iranian regime and its media. We also carry out peaceful protests to put pressure on the Iranian regime to withdraw its foot soldiers from Syria and stop its support to the Syrian regime, and to influence the public narrative about the Syrian revolution.
On behalf of many Syrians and Iranians, we ask you to consider the following issues when negotiating with the Iranian delegation:
- You cannot overlook the suffering of millions of Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese for the sake of minor, temporary concessions from the Iranian regime. You cannot turn a blind eye to the repression of Iranian dissidents and to Sepah Pasdaran’s adventures in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Because by doing so, you are trading Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and human rights in Iran for the Iranian nuclear bomb. This is unacceptable and goes against the high moral standards in genuine democracies.
- Any talks with Iranian officials about trade or Iran’s nuclear programme must be linked with the human rights situation in Iran and with the Iranian regime’s intervention in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Similarly, expanding business relations with Iran must be linked to regional stability, to democratic reforms and to the protection of universal human rights.
- If the Iranian delegation insists, as they often do, that these issues are separate, you have to tell them they are not separate: the main reason behind the Iranian regime’s heavy involvement in the wars in Syria and Iraq is to keep arms and missiles flowing to Hezbollah Lebanon, so as to keep the latter a strong deterrent against Israel and the West in case of an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
- You have to tell the Iranian regime that there will be no lifting of economic sanctions if it does not guarantee basic human rights in Iran and if it does not pull Sepah Pasdaran, Hezbollah Lebanon and the Iraqi militias out of Syria. You have to demand that the Iranian regime ends all its financial and military support to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and ends its interference in Iraq and in Lebanon.
- Tell the Iranian regime it has to order Hezbollah Lebanon to disband or join the Lebanese army.
- The suffering of Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese should not be a footnote in endless nuclear negotiations with Iran. The Iranian regime keeps extending deadlines to buy more time to consolidate its presence in Syrian, Lebanon and Iraq.
- We are not against improving the economic relations between Iran and any other country, but you cannot ignore the fact that a big part of the subsequent economic gains under the current conditions will be wasted on enabling human rights abuses in Iran as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria and Iraq.
- Bear in mind that linking the nuclear negotiations with the Iranian regime’s role in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq presents the only realistic chance of ending the bloodshed in Syria and Iraq at the moment, and of finally stabilizing Lebanon.
We kindly ask you to uphold the highest moral and political standards when negotiating with the Iranian regime about its nuclear programme.
Looking forward to your response.
Spokesperson, Naame Shaam
PS: We are not sending this letter to the foreign ministers of Russia and China because we are convinced that their governments are fully supportive of the Iranian and Syrian regimes and would not listen to any critique of their foreign policies.
Various Iranian and Hezbollah officials have stated that Bashar al-Assad’s regime would not survive long without the massive military and economic support it is receiving from the Iranian regime. All major battles in Syria are now being fought by Sepah Pasdaran and Hezbollah, rather than the Assad forces. Many checkpoints in Damascus are manned by Iraqi militias, and Sepah Pasdaran commanders have admitted being in charge of all major military operations against the Syrian rebels.
It is estimated that billions of Iranian Tomans, from the Iranian public purse, are being spent every month to keep al-Assad in power. The Iranian regime has been financing a big part of the economy in regime-controlled areas, pumping billions of dollars into the Syrian Central Bank so that the regime can pay salaries and import food and other goods for its supporters. The Syrian Pound would have long collapsed if it wasn’t for this financial support.
The Iranian regime has also been paying all the bills for the Russian arms shipped to al-Assad’s forces, as well as funding all the military operations of Sepah Pasdaran, Hezbollah and the Iraqi militias fighting in Syria.
The de facto ruler of regime-held areas in Syria is Gen. Soleimani, the chief of Sepah Qods, which is a division of Sepah Pasdaran (the Iranian Revolutionary Guards) responsible for foreign operations. Sepah Qods fully controls the armed forces of the Assad regime, as well as its policies and economy. Al-Assad has been dubbed as Gen Soleimani’s ‘deputy’.
Meanwhile, more and more ordinary Iranians are suffering economic hardship. Poverty and deprivation are on the rise in Iran. Naame Sham believes that Iran is bleeding in Syria, and that Syria has become Iran’s Vietnam.
For more details about Iran’s role in Syria, see:
To raise awareness about Iran’s role in Syria, Naame Shaam activists on 8 April 2014 held a peaceful protest outside a hotel in Berlin where the Iranian Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, along with other Iranian officials, were attending a conference with German business representatives. For more details, see: http://www.naameshaam.org/en/activists-protest-irans-involvement-in-syria-as-iranian-minister-attends-business-conference-in-berlin/
On 3 May 2014, Naame Shaam activists staged another peaceful protest at a conference center in Vienna, where the European Union’s foreign policy chief and the Iranian foreign minister were discussing Iran’s nuclear programme. For more details see: http://www.naameshaam.org/en/naame-shaam-activists-protest-outside-eu-iran-meeting-in-vienna/