By Struan Stevenson
VIEWERS who enjoyed The Night Manager – the hit Sunday night thriller on BBC TV, will have been shocked at John le Carre’s graphic portrayal of the evil arms trade and the ruthless weapons brokers who deal in death and destruction. Sadly, le Carre’s villains are all too real and can, for the most part, be found in Tehran. Last week the crew of an American Navy vessel, the USS Gravely, seized a massive arms shipment in the Arabian Sea. The Americans stopped and searched a dhow, a traditional Arabian sailing boat and found a huge cache of 1,500 AK-47 rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21.50-calibre machine guns. The weapons were heading to Yemen, where the Iranian regime is backing the Houthi rebels, a Shi’ia terrorist outfit engaged in a civil war against predominantly Sunni forces loyal to the beleaguered president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The crew of the dhow had to be released, as the US Navy had no legal rights to detain them under international law. However, the secretive arms cargo was identified as Iranian.
This should come as no surprise to seasoned Middle East observers. Iran’s main export, now that sanctions have been lifted following Obama’s nuclear deal, will not be oil. Its main export is, and always will, be terror. As well as Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Iran funds Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the brutal Shi’ite militias in Iraq. This is the real Iran under the theocratic and fascist rule of the mullahs, whose so-called ‘moderate’ president Rouhani the West believes it can do deals with. We should wake up! Rouhani is in charge of a venally corrupt government, which has executed over 2,400 people since he took office in 2013. The Iranian government under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei condones torture and arbitrary imprisonment, discriminates against women and encourages public floggings, amputations and hanging as a means of terrorising its population into docile submission.
The arms shipment in the Arabian Sea is simply the latest confrontational move by Iran. Last month they test-fired two missiles in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution tied to the nuclear deal. The missiles were chillingly marked with the phrase Israel Must Be Wiped Out and the test firing took place provocatively on the same day that the US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel. The Chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) aerospace division – Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated that the missile test was intended to intimidate Israel. He said: “The 2,000-kilometre (1,240-mile) range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime; Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.” Now, in a deal with Vladimir Putin, Iran has agreed to pay the Russians $800 million for a shipment of ground-to-air missiles capable of hitting planes in northern Israel.
President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was pushed through to secure his footnote in history. He swept aside all warnings and fears and signed an agreement that effectively ended sanctions on the Iranian regime and released over $150 billion of frozen assets, providing a windfall for a government that was teetering on the brink of economic collapse. But far from investing in its people, the fascist mullah-led regime has used this money to re-double its spending on weapons and on exporting terror through its IRGC and Qods Force who are involved in almost every conflict in the Middle East.
Le Carre’s cynicism about global realpolitik ensured that in the original text of The Night Manager the bad guys emerge more or less victorious, while the good guys get a thumping. The BBC script-writers modified the tale to ensure a happy ending for viewers, with the wicked arms dealer carted off screaming to an Egyptian dungeon. Sadly, in the case of the Iranian regime, it may be le Carre’s version that will prevail. Unless the West wakes up fast and understands that it can’t do deals with the tyrants in Tehran, the bad guys will win.
Struan Stevenson was a Conservative MEP in the European Parliament from 1999 until 2014. He was President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He is President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.