JEDDAH: Iran was accused of hypocrisy on Sunday after its parliament voted to join a global convention to cut off terror financing.
The regime in Tehran is routinely accused of being the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and boasts of its support for groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, which are widely viewed as terrorist organizations.
“This is an absurd and preposterous move by the Iranian leaders,” the Iranian-American Harvard scholar Dr Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.
“Economic sanctions have put significant pressure on the regime. This is a cosmetic and superficial move to declare that Tehran combats terrorism in the hope that the international community will help the ruling mullahs financially. It is also a tactic to deflect attention from the regime’s activities in promoting terrorism.
“The undeniable fact is that the Islamic Republic remains the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Based on my research at Harvard, the Iranian regime supports — financially, militarily or politically — roughly 40 percent of militias and terror groups in the world.
“Iran’s move also highlights the regime’s hypocrisy and double standards as it continues to support designated terrorist groups across the globe.”
Sunday’s vote in the Iranian parliament is thought to be an effort to avoid further international sanctions as the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program unravels.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said 143 out of 268 members of parliament voted to join the Combating the Financing of Terrorism agreement, or CFT. The bill must be ratified by the Guardian Council to become a law.
President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal with world powers in May and has vowed to ramp up sanctions unless Iran dramatically changes its policies, including halting its support for regional militant groups.
By joining the CFT, Iran would be required to comply with some ideas offered by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organization that targets money laundering around the world.
Hardliners opposed the bill and said it would erode Iran’s sovereignty, and hundreds of hard-line students protested outside parliament on Sunday.
But Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was a “historic decision” that would make it easier for Russia and China to continue doing business with Iran.