The international community must take a multifaceted approach to Iran. The regime’s drive to acquire nuclear weapons remains at the forefront of policy discussions regarding Tehran. This is understandable, of course, but the severity of this threat is no justification for overlooking any of the regime’s other malign activities.

The potential perils of single-mindedness have been highlighted in recent weeks by incidents including attacks on US assets in Iraq and Syria, which were evidently carried out by the Iranian regime’s regional proxies and timed to coincide with the second anniversary of a US strike that eliminated the regime’s top operative, Qassem Soleimani.

Another example of the proxy threat came on Jan. 17, when a drone attack penetrated the territory of the UAE and struck civilian areas of the nation’s capital, Abu Dhabi. The drones in question were likely of Iranian origin because the regime has been caught smuggling advanced weaponry to the Houthis in Yemen on several occasions and has placed a great deal of emphasis on drones in its own recent paramilitary buildups.

The attacks in Iraq, Syria and the UAE, coupled with earlier attacks on Saudi Arabia and direct missile strikes on US assets in Iraq, make it clear that the threat from Tehran is confined neither by geography nor by ideology.

The regime appears to freely target fellow Muslim nations, as well as Western targets. It has even attempted to take the fight to these Western nations’ territory, as in 2018, when a Vienna-based regime diplomat and three Iranian intelligence operatives were caught attempting to bomb a Free Iran rally near Paris.

Four European lawmakers last month joined the Iranian oppositional group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, at a conference that highlighted the full range of malign activities for which Tehran must be held accountable. The speeches made clear reference to the nuclear issue and the ongoing negotiations in Vienna between the Tehran regime and the P5+1 world powers. But speakers also criticized the Western signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal for being too conciliatory and overlooking other issues out of fear they might prevent Tehran agreeing to a resolution. For example, former British Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow criticized the UK government and its allies for dealing with Iran’s rogue regime in the same way they would deal with fellow democracies. He added that “the conciliatory approach has yielded no results.”

This is a reminder of the perception that the Western powers have overlooked the domestic aspect of the Iranian regime’s malign activities to a greater extent than any other. Ebrahim Raisi, who became president last summer, was one of four officials to serve on the Tehran “death commission” that in 1988 held sham trials of political prisoners in Evin and Gohardasht prisons as part of the implementation of then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa targeting organized opposition to the clerical system. Most of the victims were members or supporters of the NCRI. The group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, last month highlighted the progress the Iranian resistance has made toward overthrowing the theocratic dictatorship and replacing it with a truly democratic system.

In other words, human rights should be at the forefront of a correct European policy toward the Iranian regime. This is partly because human rights abuses represent Tehran’s most imminent and widespread threat to life, but also because this focus has the potential to empower Iranian activist communities at a time when an unprecedented rise in anti-government protests has prompted another surge in repression.

The trend of repression has no doubt been enabled by the sense of impunity that surrounds Raisi’s appointment as president. For as long as he faces no consequences for his prior human rights abuses, he will continue to promote more of the same now that he is in the regime’s second-highest office. That prediction has been affirmed by a sharp increase in executions and instances of Iranian activists receiving lengthy prison terms, death sentences and arbitrary punishments for “crimes” such as “spreading propaganda” and showing “enmity toward God.”

One can only imagine how much more widespread the protests would be if the Iranian people had reason to believe that the international community would confront further escalations by the regime, as opposed to focusing solely on Western interests and the already-collapsing nuclear deal.

Confronting the Iranian regime’s malign and destructive activities in the region and its increasing human rights violations at home should be at the forefront of the Western powers’ approach to Tehran.

Source » arabnews