Europe’s policy towards the mullahs of Iran: continued bargaining or decisiveness?

Europe’s policy towards the mullahs of Iran: continued bargaining or decisiveness?
Europe’s policy towards the mullahs of Iran: continued bargaining or decisiveness?
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On Thursday, January 19, the European Parliament approved, by a majority of its members, a decision to include the mullahs’ guards in the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. Three days earlier, in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, nearly 20,000 Iranians living in Europe had unanimously demanded that the mullahs’ guards be designated as a terrorist organization.

The proposal to designate the mullahs’ guards, the main apparatus of repression and export of terrorism and warmongering in the Iranian regime, as a terrorist organization is not a new issue. This demand was first put forward by Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in 2010 in the German Parliament. For years, the Iranian Resistance has called for this step to be taken in the US Congress, the Senate, the parliaments of European countries, and various meetings and conferences.

It took nearly ten years until 2019 before Donald Trump, the former president of the United States, declared that the IRGC is a terrorist group in the United States, and any contact with it is punishable under the anti-terror laws of the United States. With the outbreak of the recent Iranian uprising in September 2022, and after four months of brutal suppression of unarmed Iranian demonstrators at the hands of the mullahs’ guards, this demand became a general demand that was echoed outside Iran’s borders by many political institutions and organizations, as parliaments of countries demanded European one after another with such a classification.

In a debate held on January 12, the British Parliament also approved a bill recommending that the government follow this classification. Iranian communities in Europe, America and Canada unanimously supported this demand as a condition for protecting the demonstrators from the mullahs’ oppression in Iran. It can be said with confidence that during the past two weeks, no political demands of the Iranians inside and outside Iran and the international supporters of the Iranian uprising have been supported and confirmed to this extent. The European Parliament’s approval of the draft bill to include the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the terrorist list was a natural, strong and humane response to an emergency situation caused by the inhumane performance of a collapsed regime that only knows the language of brutal repression in order to maintain its presence in power.

As an inevitable consequence, the approval of the European Parliament bill alarmed the mullahs’ regime, as the mullahs used the old tactic of terrorist threats and stated that if the mullahs’ guards were designated, they would view European institutions and European military forces as targets for retaliation. Meanwhile, the mullahs’ foreign minister implicitly threatened that if the EU approved this law, Iran would withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and even expel inspectors from the United Nations’ atomic energy organization.

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This claim was a threat to move toward an atomic bomb, which the mullahs had been using to hold European politics hostage for two decades. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, announced on Monday, January 23, that designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization requires a ruling by a European court. Instead, he announced that 37 figures from the mullahs’ regime had been sanctioned in the fourth European Union sanctions package since the beginning of the uprising.

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Mr. Borrell’s statement was seen as a sudden brake on the mullahs’ condemnation machine. The announcement by the Council of Foreign Ministers of its non-compliance with the decision of the European Parliament, despite the obstacles and legal complications in the way of its implementation, was a political shock. MEP Tychos Rutten found this completely unacceptable. Another member of the European Parliament, Hana Neumann, described the new sanctions as a step forward, and stressed that the parliament will continue its efforts to find ways to put the mullahs’ guards on the terrorist list. Norbert Röttgen, the representative of the Christian Democratic Party in the German parliament, accused politicians of lacking transparency in dealing with the mullahs.

At the same time, given the extreme weakness of the mullahs’ regime, he considered their threats of “retaliation and confrontation in kind” as “empty threats”. He said, “They are the ones who should agree with us, not for Europe to be afraid of the Islamic Republic.”

Meanwhile, the Iranian people and the opposition view the European Union’s non-compliance with the European Parliament’s decision as a sign of the desire to continue the abhorrent policy of appeasement with the mullahs. It is a policy that has been followed at least since the death of Khomeini by Europe and its politicians in dealing with the mullahs’ regime, and there was an expectation that it would be abandoned forever in the recent uprising of the Iranian people.

Josep Borrell’s statement last week that he “believes there is no other way but to continue negotiations to deal with the mullahs’ nuclear program” is something that brings to mind the image of European foreign policy that has become hostage to the stalled nuclear negotiations.

For years, the policy of appeasement in Europe was the only way for the mullahs to stay afloat and justify their oppression of the Iranian people, and for years the mullahs have shown themselves to be very adept at taking hostages in any form. It is the responsibility of the Iranian people to destroy the hostage-taking policy and the mullahs’ appeasement policy through the uprising.

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