Continental Europe''s zig-zag course with sanctioned Iranian officials remains a counterproductive leftover vestige to the EU''s nearly 30 year failed policy of dialogue with Tehran''s clerical rulers. Take the example of Irans foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, who on December 4 appeared in Bonn to attend the Afghanistan conference. Though Salehi is sanctioned by the EU because of his work on Iran''s illicit nuclear weapons program, he met with Germany''s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and schmoozed with the conference attendees. The EU has waived its own visa restrictions against Salehi.Attention to a second case this week raises again the point of impotent EU diplomatic sanctions. Iranian oil minister Rostam Ghasemi swooped into Vienna on Tuesday to attend the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on Wednesday. Ghasemi commands Iran''s revolutionary guards'' Khatam al-Anbia military. The EU, Australia and the United States have sanctioned Ghasemi. His tentacles are immersed in blacklisted revolutionary guard companies. Iran''s Revolutionary Guards Corps is defined as a global terrorist organization by the US government. Yet his presence at the Vienna parley makes a mockery of Iran-based sanctions. Diplomatic business as usual is precisely what Tehran seeks. And the EU, sadly, is reciprocating. Leaders from the Islamic Republic, including its so-called "moderates," have waged an ongoing war against Iranian dissidents on European soil and Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Two stunningly brilliant counter-terrorism experts, Dr. Michael Ledeen and Thomas Joscelyn, from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, have long documented the intense military cooperation and political relations between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran. See Thomas Joscelyn in The Weekly Standard here.
And Michael Ledeen over at National Review Online back in 2006!(Full disclosure: I am a research fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies).In short, Iran''s killing spree continues because its regime has not been severely punished. Europe''s failure to enforce a straightforward visa sanction does not bode well for economic penalties targeting Iran''s financial and oil sectors.