In case you needed reminding, Iran is not a safe travel destination whilst the mullahs are in power. If you were keen to overlook the authoritarian regime’s kidnapping of many foreign nationals in an effort to extort favours from their home country, this month has been a painful reminder that you are not safe even if you do get through airport security.
On January 8, the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)shot down a commercial airliner headed for Ukraine killing all 176 civilians on board, tried to cover it up, and then forced families to say they didn’t blame the mullahs. The regime now says that they mistook the plane that took off from Tehran for an incoming missile after launching 17 missiles against a United States base in Iraq.
Thankfully, airlines and travel agencies have cancelled most flights travelling through Iranian and Iraqi airspace, with the US Federal Aviation Administration banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran, and the Gulf.
Air France, Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, KLM, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Emirates, Flydubai, Cathay Pacific, PLL LOT, Japanese ANA, and JAL are just some of the international airlines that announced they will be avoiding the airspace, something that will cause a huge financial deficit for the regime. This is good because it means the mullahs will have less money to spend on supporting terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Still, there are real concerns over anyone choosing to visit Iran while the mullahs are in power.
For example, their recent crackdowns on protests. In the November 2019 uprising, which began after fuel prices were tripled overnight and quickly took on anti-regime sentiments, the regime killed 1500 people, injured 4,000, and arrested 12,000.
In the protests after the plane downing, the regime used tear gas and live ammunition against peaceful protesters. They even used sexual violence against detained protesters, according to Amnesty International.
The Iranian Resistance wrote: “The regime’s deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters once again proves this regime will commit any crime to maintain its power, as it has done in the last 40 years.”
We mentioned that foreign or dual nationals are particularly at risk of being taken hostage in Iran, which has been the case since the 1979 US embassy hostage crisis. Normally, the hostages are civilians, who were just in the wrong place, but Iran recently arrested the UK Ambassador for taking part in the protests.
Ahmad Alamolhoda, Mashhad’s Friday Prayers Imam and the representative of the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in Khorasan Razavi Province, said that rather than being expelled, the UK Ambassador should be “chopped into pieces”.