The Iranian regime is playing a tactical and political game with the EU. In concerted efforts, Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are continuing to impose significant pressure on the European authorities, issuing ultimatums, adding absurd extra demands to its list, and threatening to pull out of the nuclear deal.
As a result, some European nations are scrambling to ensure they can chart a path through which Iran’s demands are met in order to keep the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, intact. This deal will now be between the Islamic Republic and France, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and Germany.
But the EU is overlooking several critical facts in its dealings with the Iranian regime. First of all, from the perspective of Iran’s clerical establishment, if an entity gives concessions and submits to Tehran’s demands, it is demonstrating weakness.
When concessions are made, the modus operandi of the Iranian leaders is to demand more. For example, when the Iranian leaders witnessed that several European governments took Iran’s side after the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, and when Tehran observed that some EU states gave into Iran’s pressure and rushed into organizing meetings, Iran increased its demands.
Khamenei immediately added to his orders, even demanding that the EU “must guarantee it will not raise the issue of the Islamic Republic’s missiles and regional affairs.” This means that Khamenei wants that the Iranian leaders and their military organizations to get immunity to act the way they desire in the region. Emboldened and empowered, Iran is even demanding that the European nations “guarantee the total sales of Iran’s oil.”
When it comes to Iran’s politics, the following saying fully applies: Give them an inch and they will take a mile.
Secondly, the European governments should be cognizant of the reality that the Iranian regime needs the nuclear deal more than they do.
The financial relief emanating from the nuclear agreement is vital for the survival of the ruling clerics. Thanks to the sanctions relief, the extra sale of oil and gas has added billions of dollars to the regime’s revenues. Iran’s oil exports reached approximately one billion barrels in 2017. This means that Iran’s oil exports have gone up nearly 250 percent up since the crippling economic sanctions against Tehran were lifted. In addition, while Iran is currently exporting nearly 2.7 million barrels a day, it is planning to pump up to four millions barrels a day. Some Iranian officials are planning to ship abroad the same amount of oil that Tehran was exporting in the 1970s — more than six million barrels a day.
As has become evident during the domestic developments of the last year, the beneficiaries of the additional billions of dollars in revenues are not the ordinary Iranian people. The main beneficiaries are the state’s apparatuses, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the office of the supreme leader, which are strengthening their hold on power.
Iranians are continuing to protest the economic austerity that they are facing on a daily basis. Kambiz, an Iranian computer engineer who has been searching for a job since he graduated from Shiraz University two years ago, said: “The government promised that it will reduce unemployment when sanctions were lifted. But we have given up hope that any benefit from the nuclear deal will trickle down to the people. We have given up hope that the government will listen to its citizens’ economic difficulties. In many respects, the financial situation of the people has become worse in the last two years.”
In addition, in these critical times, Tehran needs sanctions relief more than ever because its military influence and presence in the region has significantly escalated since the nuclear agreement was reached in 2015. This includes the Iranian regime’s increasing influence in Syria and Iraq, the additional recruitment of foreign fighters to operate in Syria in support of Bashar Assad, the rise in smuggling of powerful weapons to the Houthis in Yemen, and its military support to Hezbollah and Shiite militias across the region.
Finally, the global legitimacy that the nuclear deal grants to Tehran is critical for the Iranian leaders. It facilitates their path toward achieving their foreign policy and revolutionary objectives. Such enhanced legitimacy on the international stage helps the regime in two different approaches: It can more easily suppress domestic opposition and silence dissidents without fearing significant repercussions from the international community; and it offers an element of immunity with respect to expanding its influence in the region through hard power, military adventurism, and support for militia groups and proxies.
Instead of submitting to Iran’s threats and scrambling to ensure that the demands of the Iranian leaders are met, the EU ought to seize this opportunity. This is one of the ripest environments for the European nations to pressure the Iranian regime into changing its destructive behavior and becoming a constructive player in the region.
Source » arabnews