How France Became Iran’s Biggest Advocate

Sept. 24 2019

For some time, the French president Emmanuel Macron has sought to position himself as a mediator between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic. Macron’s ostensible hope is to convince Tehran to concede to a modified version of the 2015 nuclear deal and to release some of its political prisoners in exchange for an end to American sanctions. Freddy Eytan explores Macron’s motivations, and the possible results:

[Macron] is essentially the only leader on the Continent who is capable of “restoring the former glory” of the European community, maintaining proper and friendly relations with all camps and sides, and negotiating directly and equally with the leaders of the great powers as a fair and ultimate mediator.
Macron has held this ambition ever since he moved into politics and was appointed as finance minister in the previous socialist government. He aims in particular to regain France’s reputation as a political, economic, and cultural force that is not dependent upon the superpowers. He seeks to . . . return to the doctrine of Charles de Gaulle, which entails following an independent foreign policy that will conform to that of the United States and the West only when it is in the interests of France.

There is no doubt that President Macron’s primary motivation is economic and the preservation of France’s interests. It should be noted that since the imposition of new sanctions following the U.S. withdrawal from the Vienna agreement, the export of French products to Iran has fallen by 42 percent. France is the third-largest exporter to Iran in Europe after Germany and Italy. At the end of 2018, the value of commerce between the two countries stood at 2.4 billion euros. Apart from investments in the country to establish transportation and electricity infrastructures, France exports raw materials and electronics, agricultural machinery, and medicines.

The French president’s diplomatic moves are indeed transparent, but also dangerous because Iran would receive the removal of the sanctions on a silver platter and financial credit even before talks began. France, along with most of the European countries, is gambling on President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, whom they believe to be “moderate,” without considering the tough and uncompromising stand of the leaders of the Revolutionary Guard. This process serves the efforts of the European Union to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Emmanuel Macron, France, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter