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Open letter to European business and trade associations about making deals with Iran

Rouhani Moderate & Khamenei Iran Cartoon

I am writing to you on behalf of the campaign group Naame Shaam regarding European business representatives’ scrambling to make deals with the Iranian regime and Iranian firms since the beginning of 2014, when hopes were high that international economic sanctions against Iran would be lifted soon.

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 murderous Syrian regime, and to influence the public narrative about the Syrian revolution.

On 8 April 2014, Naame Shaam activists 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:

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:

We kindly ask you to inform all members of your organisation about our positions, concerns and demands regarding any future business deals between the Iranian regime and firms in your country:

  • 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 economic gains will be wasted on enabling human rights abuses in Iran as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.
  • European business representatives and politicians must realise that by dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a regime with a horrendous human rights record, they are indirectly supporting the murderous Syrian regime. They cannot just go about doing business as usual while Syrians are being killed and displaced by Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Sepah Pasdaran) and Hezbollah fighters. All of these groups are funded and controlled by the Iranian regime.
  • European business and trade associations dealing with Iran must put pressure on the Iranian regime to improve the human rights situation in Iran and end its involvement in Syria.
  • Expanding business relations with Iran must be linked to regional stability, to democratic reforms and to protecting human rights in Iran.
  • Business representatives in Europe must tell their governments that there should be no lifting of economic sanctions against Iran if the Iranian regime does not protect universal human rights in Iran and if it does not pull out all its foot soldiers from Sepah Pasdaran and Hezbollah Lebanon out of Syria.
  • They should also demand that the Iranian regime ends all the financial and military support that it has been providing to Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
  • European business and trade associations cannot overlook the unimaginable plight of millions of Iranians and Syrians for the sake of minor concessions from the Iranian regime regarding its nuclear programme. 20 July 2014 had been designated as an unofficial deadline for reaching a comprehensive deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers (US, EU, UK, France, China and Russia + Germany) but the negotiations could be extended further.
  • Current nuclear talks between the P5+1 group of nations and Iran must be linked with the human rights situation in Iran and with the Iranian role in Syria.
  • Your government, the European Union and the US must uphold the highest moral and political standards when negotiating with the Iranian regime about its nuclear programme. You cannot turn a blind eye to the Iranian regime’s repression against dissidents and to the adventure of the Sepah Pasdaran in Syria.

Looking forward to your response.


Hossein Amir
Spokesperson, Naame Shaam
[email protected]

Background Information:

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, a division of Sepah Pasdaran (the Iranian Revolutionary Guards). 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, see:

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