European appeasement of Iran unlikely to ease tension

Iranians burn a U.S. flag during a protest against President Donald Trump's decision to walk out of a 2015 nuclear deal, in Tehran, Iran, May 11, 2018.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranians burn a U.S. flag during a protest against President Donald Trump's decision to walk out of a 2015 nuclear deal, in Tehran, Iran, May 11, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, a revived campaign of maximum pressure on the Islamic regime in Iran by the Trump administration and an increasingly worrisome rise in tension between the United States and Iran, the EU3 (France, UK and Germany) countries find themselves in a bit of a conundrum.
To take advantage of the opportunities that doing business with Iran could bring, and in response to an ultimatum from Iran, the EU3 countries have not only refused to stand with the US decision to pull out of the Iran deal and join in the maximum pressure campaign, but have also developed a mechanism known as INSTEX (the Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges) as a way to facilitate EU-Iran trade and bypass US sanctions.
EU3 policy on Iran suffers from the same flaws and absurdity that the negotiators of the Iran deal suffered from in the Obama administration. The idea that signing an agreement with the Islamic regime of Iran on the nuclear issue without addressing or making its human-rights record, ballistic-missile program and aggressively expansionist foreign policy a priority, is perhaps the greatest foreign policy miscalculation of any modern US administration to date.
The Obama administration was not alone in this miscalculation. The EU3 Iran policy for the past decade has followed the same appeasement model that the Obama administration so often boasted about. Such a policy has emboldened the Islamic regime and made economic sanctions less effective if one considers the length of Iran’s power and reach in the region today.
The major victor of the great games being played in the Middle East has undoubtedly been Iran and its allies. They have the Obama administration and EU3 to thank for enabling their expansion across the region.
Regionally, they are at the doorsteps of Israel and other US and European allies via proxies. The security of these countries in the region is integral to Europe’s security, especially if it does not want another Syria-like humanitarian crisis flooding its borders.
The Europeans are fooling themselves if they believe that the nuclear deal is going to curtail Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or end its sponsorship of terrorism in the region, but more importantly on European soil. Agents of the Islamic regime have abused international laws on countless occasions by exploiting diplomatic immunity in numerous EU countries to engage in terrorist activities, and many have returned to Iran safely without punishment.
FURTHERMORE, THE demise of US and European hegemony in the world – particularly in the Middle East – is gradually being replaced with the hegemony of the Islamic regime of Iran, a power that is extremely undemocratic and expansionist both in theory and practice. While Iran may seem to be doing poorly economically, it has without a doubt filled the power vacuum that the retreat of the US and Europe in the region has created.
The Europeans likely believe that an Iran with nuclear weapons might be the greatest threat to their security and are desperate to save this deal which Iran knows all too well. Hence, their 60-day ultimatum from President Hassan Rouhani. For instance, it was recently revealed by The Telegraph that the history and well-documented terrorist activities by the Islamic regime is a testament that the regime does not need nuclear weapons to sow chaos and cause havoc in Europe, or threaten the security and stability of its neighbors and the Middle East region as a whole.
In fact, the recent threat by Rouhani or Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that the US and its allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia “cannot expect to be safe” if the economic sanctions are not lifted, illustrates that the regime has no desire to work out matters in a truly peaceful way. Couple this with the number of terrorist plots that Iran and its proxies have carried out since the deal was signed, proves that the deal has done little to change the regime’s belligerence and keeping it alive will thus fail to alter the regime’s behavior both abroad and domestically.
As a matter of fact, The Telegraph reports that months after the Iran deal was signed, UK authorities discovered agents of the Iranian proxy Hezbollah stockpiling explosives in London, yet failed to inform the public and lawmakers to fearing its impact on the deal.
Thus, it is clear that confronting Iran is not warmongering, nor is it merely about just nuclear weapons. It is an ideological war that the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini articulated long ago when he stated, “We are not afraid of economic sanctions or military intervention. What we are afraid of is Western universities.”
The failure of EU3 countries to confront Iran the way that the US is doing with its maximum pressure campaign, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12-point demand, is in a way enabling the Islamic regime to continue to export its ideology and eliminate its opponents not only in the Middle East but also on European soil.
The EU3 might not like the Trump administration or the idea of the Nuclear deal failing, but appeasing the Islamic regime and trying to do business with it has only emboldened it and made it more aggressive. It is time that the EU3 acted with the same boldness as the US and end this policy of appeasement and desperation for an agreement. If the regime refuses to negotiate a new deal that encompasses other critical issues like its proxies, ballistic-missile program and human-rights record, then it is essentially to blame for whatever may follow.
The author is an English teacher and freelance writer located in Vancouver and is a contributer for Kurdistan24, Rudaw and other Kurdish news organizations.