Christopher Booker: Why is Jack Straw so wrong on Iran?

Hassan Rouhani and Jack Straw

By Christopher Booker, Source:The Telegraph
Jack Straw told Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday how he and four other MPs had been visiting Tehran to see for themselves what grounds for hope were now being opened up by the new Iranian regime under President Hassan Rouhani. Mr Straw admitted that of course he hadn’t spoken to any “dissidents”, who might have told him about the 600 Iranians hanged this year, two-thirds of them since the “moderate reformer” Mr Rouhani took office.

It was Jack Straw who admitted, when he was home secretary in 2001, that it was “at the behest” of Tehran that he had proscribed the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), part of the main Iranian dissident movement, as “terrorists” – a ruling the government only reluctantly withdrew on the orders of Chief Justice Phillips, when he ruled that it had not been able to produce a shred of evidence to support Mr Straw’s actions.

I have many times chronicled the tragic story of how, in 2011, 3,400 unarmed PMOI exiles who lived in Camp Ashraf, a town they had built in the Iraqi desert, were tricked by the UN Secretary-General’s representative in Iraq into moving to “Camp Liberty” near Baghdad, which — only too late — they found was a horrible prison. Four times in the past year they have been attacked with rockets by a special force acting under Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, working closely with the Iranian Quds force, which spreads terror across the Middle East and is the main ally of Syria’s President Assad.

One attack in September killed 52 PMOI members, and the latest bombardment, the day after Christmas, left seven dead and more than 70 injured. Such is the true face of that “axis of evil” that Mr Straw and many others hope the West will learn to embrace more warmly.

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