Iran Takes European Hostages, Plots Terrorist Attacks—and Stays in the EU’s Good Graces

Germany, Britain, and France—the three European parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement—have been working to create a “special-purpose vehicle” that would allow their countries, and the rest of the EU, to trade with the Islamic Republic while avoiding renewed U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, Iranian diplomats in Europe have been busy plotting assassinations and terrorist attacks, leading to several arrests last year. Amir Taheri explains how Tehran has managed to maintain European solicitousness nonetheless:

The EU’s spokesperson for foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, has devoted most of her immense energies operating as a lobbyist for the Islamic Republic. . . . For almost two years the EU has fostered the illusion in Iran that it can continue doing as it pleases without risking any consequences. . . .

The EU’s special favorable treatment of the Islamic Republic includes keeping mum about over twenty EU citizens currently held as hostages in Tehran. It is also indicated by the mere rap-on-the wrist response of the Europeans to Iran’s latest terrorist operations in four European countries. . . . Europeans, including the British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, delude themselves in believing that by “working with Iran” they [can] prevent the Islamic Republic from “crossing the red lines.”

The problem is that Iran does not cross those real or imaginary “red lines.” Like the now-defunct Soviet Union in its time, the Islamic Republic’s strategy is to cross only “pink lines,” which constitute 99 percent of the norms of international behavior, whenever possible. [For instance], Iran has no troops in Yemen but manages to keep that tragedy going by helping Houthi rebels hang on to the patch of territory they hold. . . . In Britain alone, the Islamic Republic controls at least a dozen tax-exempt “charities,” often used for financing violent groups around the globe or simply for money laundering.

Part of the EU’s soft spot for the Islamic Republic may be inspired by endemic anti-Americanism, which is present in most European political circles left and right. We saw one example of this latent anti-Americanism last week over the crisis in Venezuela. . . . On Venezuela as on the Islamic Republic in Iran, the European Union must remove its anti-U.S., nowadays presented as only anti-Trump, glasses to see reality.

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More about: anti-Americanism, European Union, Iran, Iran sanctions, Politics & Current Affairs

European Aid to the Middle East Is Shaped by a Political Agenda

Feb. 18 2019

The EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit dispenses millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries every year. Although it claims to operate on principles of strict neutrality, independent of any political motivation and giving priority to the neediest cases, a look at its activities in the Middle East suggests an entirely different approach, as Hillel Frisch writes:

[T]he Middle East is the overwhelming beneficiary of EU humanitarian aid—nearly 1 billion of just over 1.4 billion euros. . . . The bulk of the funds goes toward meeting the costs of assistance to Syrian refugees, followed by smaller sums to Iraq, Yemen, “Palestine,” and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, receives less than one-third of that amount. The problem with such allocations is that the overwhelming majority of people living in dire poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Bangladesh. . . . The Palestinians, who are richer on average than those living in the poorest states of the world, . . . receive over six euros per capita, while the populations of the poorest states receive less than one-eighth of that amount. . . .

Even less defensible is the EU’s claim to political neutrality. Its favoritism toward the Palestinians on this score is visible as soon as one enters terms into the general search function on the European Commission’s website. Enter “Palestine” and you get 20,737 results. Enter “Ethiopia” and you get almost the same figure, despite massive differences in population size (Ethiopia’s 100 million versus fewer than 5 million Palestinians), geographic expanse (Ethiopia is 50 times the size of “Palestine”), and degree of sheer suffering. The Syrian crisis, which is said to have led to the loss of a half-million lives, merits not many more site results than “Palestine.”

One of the foci of the website’s reports [on the Palestinians] is the plight of 35,000 Bedouin whom the EU assists, often in clear violation of the law, in Area C—the part of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control. The hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Sinai, however, the plight of whom is readily acknowledged even by Egyptian officials, gets no mention, even though Egypt is a recipient of EU aid. . . .

Clearly, the EU’s approach to aid allocation has nothing to do with impartiality, true social-welfare needs, or humanitarian considerations. [Instead], it favors allocations to Syrian refugees above Yemeni refugees because of the higher probability that Syrian refugees will find their way to Europe. . . . The recipients of European largesse who are next in line [to Syrians], in relative terms, are the Palestinians. [This particular policy] can be attributed primarily to the EU’s hostility toward Israel, its rightful historical claims, and its security needs.

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More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians