When It Comes to Defending the Iran Deal, European Leaders Are Happy to Overlook Human Rights

In 2016, Xiyue Wang, an American doctoral student visiting Iran on a research trip, was arrested on spurious charges of espionage. He has since been in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Last week, his wife led a group of other relatives of hostages and political prisoners held by the Islamic Republic in an appeal to the UN General Assembly, which was then convening in New York, to pressure the mullahs to set their loved ones free. Europe, writes Eli Lake, has no interest in doing so:

The European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini and the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif this week announced their plans for a new financial instrument that in theory would allow European companies doing business with Iran to evade U.S. sanctions. Although most European businesses have already announced plans to divest from Iran, the EU wants to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive. . . .

[B]y making the nuclear deal the main topic of discussion, the Europeans are giving Iran tacit permission to continue funneling weapons to militias and terror groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. The message is clear if indirect: don’t worry about releasing political prisoners, please just don’t enrich more uranium. . . .

U.S. policy, [by contrast], is to punish Iran economically for its regional aggression. President Trump himself has said he is open to talks with Iran’s leaders, but that does not look likely. And while European leaders will make boilerplate condemnations of Iran’s interference in Syria and its detention of dual nationals, they have focused most of their diplomatic energies on the nuclear deal. . . .

What will it take to rescue Iran’s political prisoners? The same thing it will take to end Iran’s support for Syria’s dictator: a wholesale change in Iranian behavior. And the best chance for that happening is for Iranians to change their regime.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Europe, Hassan Rouhani, Human Rights, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy