The regime in Iran is up in arms. Last month, after the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, condemned Tehran’s domestic repression at the UN General Assembly, an Iranian diplomat had choice words for the West — and for Canada in particular.
“The appointment of a special rapporteur for Iran,” said Zahra Ershadi, Iran’s deputy ambassador to the UN, “is an unjust and politically motivated scheme initiated by the West, especially Canada, in pursuance of its adversarial attitude against our nation.”
Canada should regard Ershadi’s statement as a badge of honour. Ottawa, after all, has long spearheaded the appointment of a special rapporteur. Since 2003, Canada has served as the lead sponsor of an annual resolution at the UN General Assembly criticizing Iran for its human rights abuses.
Yet this commendable record is undermined by a corresponding hesitation on the part of Canada’s current leaders to exact meaningful consequences on Tehran. Notwithstanding Ottawa’s work at the UN and Iran’s irate response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has adopted a conciliatory posture toward Iran, apparently fearing that significant pressure on the regime would undermine prospects for rapprochement.
Ottawa’s aspiration, however, remains unlikely to reach fruition so long as an Islamist dictatorship rules Iran. Instead of wielding mere rhetoric against the clerical regime, Ottawa should take concrete action opposing the theocracy. In so doing, Ottawa would be on the right side of history, sending a message of solidarity to Iran’s long-suffering victims throughout the Middle East.
First and foremost, Ottawa should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — the paramilitary group responsible for Iran’s regional aggression and domestic repression — as a terrorist organization. Iran certainly deserves the penalty: Tehran continues to sponsor terrorist and proxy groups in its near-abroad, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Iraqi Shiite militias, and Yemen’s Houthis, to name a few.
Canada should also impose sanctions on key Iranian human rights abusers, starting with Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, who played a key role in Tehran’s 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners. The Islamist regime’s cabinet includes 12 officials previously sanctioned by the United States or its partners for their support of Iran’s nuclear program, backing of terrorist groups, or human rights abuses. Canada, a leading proponent of human rights around the world, should follow suit.
Finally, as Alireza Nader, my colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has suggested , Ottawa should act to halt illicit or malign Iranian conduct on Canadian soil. In particular, Trudeau should stop Canada-based Iranian influence networks that seek to promote Tehran’s revolutionary ideology.
The prime minister should also work to stymie Tehran-backed money-laundering schemes spearheaded in Canada. Likewise, Ottawa should bar current and former regime officials from entering the country.
These steps would complement Canada’s efforts at the UN, demonstrating that Ottawa possesses the will to challenge Iran’s policies however it can. Tehran, of course, will likely respond with anger. However, the regime’s indignation merely points to the validity and importance of Canadian pressure.
It won’t be enough to reform the regime, but a resolute Canadian posture will at least give the theocracy one less country to exploit for its own malign ends.
Source » torontosun