Iran Takes European Hostages, Plots Terrorist Attacks—and Stays in the EU’s Good Graces https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2019/02/iran-takes-european-hostages-plots-terrorist-attacks-and-stays-in-the-eus-good-graces/

February 7, 2019 | Amir Taheri

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.

Read more on Asharq Al-Awsat: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1571681/amir-taheri/why-tehran-crosses-only-pink-lines