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


At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations