by Atousa Pilger
As the Trump administration applies diplomatic pressure on the Iranian regime over its ballistic missile program, and threatens to invalidate the Iran nuclear deal by certifying the regime as being out of compliance with its provisions, it has been criticized by the Iranian regime’s allies.
The central issue, Iran’s ballistic missile program, poses an international threat. As well, the regime’s support of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah is destabilizing the Middle East.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran deal or Iran nuclear deal, placed little emphasis on Iran’s missile program, and did not address Iran’s human rights record or its support for terrorism. The Iranian regime has been building its missile program and gaining strength in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
Nearly four million Syrian refugees flooded into Europe in the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. EU leaders who had lauded the nuclear deal, hoping for a way towards Iranian moderation, have now experienced terror, as cities like Paris, Berlin and Brussels are shocked by acts inspired by the Islamic extremism.
French president Emmanuel Macron, has recently taken a more aggressive stance towards Iranian military actions and human rights. Last weekend, according to the Financial Times, he told Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in a telephone call, about his concerns regarding Iran’s activities.
A May deadline has been set by the US president for European countries to “fix” the nuclear agreement, and France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is set for further talks in Tehran on Monday.
France, Germany and Britain are all signatories to the deal, and they are trying to reach a solution that will placate the Trump administration without destroying an accord they believe is working.
Macron also asked for “clear responses” from Iran over “problems” outside the deal — those that relate to its ballistic missile program and its destabilizing role in the region, particularly in Lebanon. Meanwhile, according to Reuters, Le Drian will call upon the regime in Tehran to address the West’s misgivings about its ballistic missile program and Middle East military activities.
Jose Maria Aznar, former prime minister of Spain, and Stephen Harper, former prime minister of Canada, in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, urged Europe to act more decisively in containing Iranian expansionism. “Despite Tehran’s quest for regional control, popular protests in December and January showed that most of the nation’s citizens don’t share their leaders’ designs. The regime’s destabilizing actions have also triggered resistance from Saudi Arabia and other regional powers. Iran’s own citizens and neighbors are convinced of Tehran’s malice, and all concerned nations should heed their warning,” Aznar and Harper wrote.
“Thankfully, the U.S. has demonstrated its ability to rally its Middle Eastern partners in stabilizing the region. Iranian theocracy appeals mainly to a few neighboring Shiite Islamic factions, and Iran’s long-term conflicts with other sects have made many states eager to cooperate in restraining its influence. Numerous allies can be mobilized in the struggle against Iran, from the Kurds and tribal elements to many Sunni Arabs and Shiite forces not co-opted by Tehran. These factions must collaborate to contain Iran’s hegemonic ambitions,” they added.
They warn that, “if left unchecked, Iran’s aggression will ultimately threaten Europe and North America as well. All should urgently work together to counter this threat to global security.”
If Iran builds permanent military bases in Syria and moves its ballistic missiles there, most of Europe will be within range, and regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel will have no advance warning to detect Iranian missiles.
European nations must heed French president Macron’s wake up call, and take action soon.