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Can the EU Be Induced to Abandon Its Craven Attitude toward Iran?

Jan. 12 2018

As much as the leaders of the European Union and its individual member states are fond of talking about human rights, they have been reluctant to express any sympathy for Iranian protestors. Benjamin Weinthal and Saba Farzan suggest that Washington pressure them to respond not just in word but in deed:

The EU’s chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, who was in Cuba to promote better relations with the Communist dictatorship, waited a week before wading gingerly into the subject of the Islamic Republic’s violent repression of peaceful protests. Thus far at least 21 people [had] been murdered by the security apparatus, and more than 2,000 people imprisoned. The real numbers are certainly higher, hidden by the regime’s restrictions on press freedom.

Mogherini bemoaned the “unacceptable loss of life,” but her nebulous statement did not pin the blame on the perpetrators of the killings: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its . . . subsidiary, the Basij militia.

While there exists a sizable divide between the EU and the U.S. over Iran policy, the U.S. government has considerable economic leverage available to influence a change in EU behavior. The U.S. Treasury Department last week imposed new sanctions on Iranian entities for their involvement in Tehran’s illicit missile program. The U.S. could raise the stakes and impose secondary sanctions on European banks and companies involved with Iran’s banks, including its powerful central bank, and with the IRGC. European countries wish to protect their businesses operating in the Islamic Republic and their credit-insurance availability. . . .

[In addition], the EU should [be encouraged to] ramp up human-rights sanctions targeting the Iranian regime’s perpetrators of violence during the current protests. . . . “Whenever there is a human-rights issue, or a human-rights violation, we Europeans feel we must do something, and we do something,” Mogherini said weeks before the protests unfolded in Iran.

America should demand that Mogherini and her associates put their money where their mouths are.

Read more at New York Daily News

More about: European Union, Human Rights, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

What U.S. Success in Syria Should Look Like

April 26 2018

Surveying the history of the Syrian civil war, Jack Keane and Danielle Pletka explain that Bashar al-Assad’s brutal rule and vicious tactics have led to the presence in his country of both Shiite terrorists, led by Hizballah and backed by Iran and Russia, and Sunni jihadist groups like Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. Any American strategy, they argue, must bear this in mind:

The best option is a Syria without Assad, committed to a future without Iranian or Russian influence. This is not a Pollyanna-like prescription; there are substantial obstacles in the way, not least those we have encountered in Iraq. . . . [But] only such a Syria can guarantee an end to Iranian interference, to the transshipment of weapons for Hizballah, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of the kind we saw used at Douma. (Iran has been instrumental in Syria’s chemical-weapons program for many years.) And, most importantly, only such a Syria can disenfranchise the al-Qaeda and IS affiliates that have found a foothold by exploiting the Syrian people’s desperation.

How do we get there? The United States must first consolidate and strengthen its position in eastern Syria from the Euphrates river to the eastern Syrian border. This involves clearing out the remnants of Islamic State, some several thousand, and ultimately eliminating pockets controlled by the Assad regime and Iranian forces in northeastern Syria. This would enable the creation of a control zone in the eastern part of the country as a base from which to build a credible and capable partner that is not subordinate to the Kurdish chain of command, while effectively shutting down Iran’s strategic land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. A regional Arab force, reportedly suggested by President Trump’s new national-security adviser, would be a welcome addition. But we should seriously doubt [the Arabs] will participate without American ground leadership and air support.

In western Syria, the United States should rebuild a Syrian opposition force with advisers, weapons, and air power while upping the pressure on Assad and his cronies to select a pathway to a negotiated peace. Pursuing a settlement in Geneva without such leverage over the Assad regime is pure fantasy. Finally, the United States and other Western powers must impede Iran’s and Russia’s ability to be resupplied. Syria’s airfields must be destroyed, and Syria’s airspace must remain clear.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Hizballah, Iran, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy