In recent weeks, as Iran has lashed out at its neighbors, rekindled its nuclear ambitions, violently disrupted regional commerce, and issued not-so-veiled threats to the world, Europe has done little more than mollify and coddle the regime. That needs to stop: The stability of the global economy, as well as of the Middle East, may depend on it.
Ever since President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic regime and the major world powers, the European signatories have allowed their sympathy for Iran to cloud their view of events unfolding in the Middle East.
At the time, they protested that the deal was serving its limited purpose of pausing Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and characterized the U.S. pullout as reckless. They also feared that the Trump administration was building a case for a war — it didn’t help that John Bolton, a longtime advocate of bombing Iran, was Trump’s national security adviser. They criticized American economic sanctions and tried to preserve the deal long past the point of futility.
These were all arguably valid concerns. Since then, however, the Europeans have turned a blind eye to Iran’s increasingly dangerous behavior in its neighborhood, even after its forces and proxies stepped up attacks on civilian shipping in the Persian Gulf and destroyed Saudi oil installations. France and Germany refused to join a U.S.-led naval effort to protect shipping in those waters; even Britain hesitated.
When the regime broke past the uranium-enrichment limits imposed by the nuclear deal, the Europeans should at a minimum have issued clear denunciations. Instead, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested the Iranians be given sanctions relief and a $15 billion line of credit — essentially, a bribe to encourage compliance.
This endless indulgence has only encouraged Iran’s progressively provocative behavior, culminating in Sept. 14’s brazen drone-and-missile assault on giant oil installations in northeastern Saudi Arabia.
The Europeans are right to fear a conflagration in the Gulf region, but they should by now recognize that it is Iran, and not the U.S., that is most likely to spark a war. Bolton’s removal from the White House should clarify their thinking. However deep their distaste for Trump, they can’t ignore his repeated offers to negotiate. Nor can they deny that Iran’s actions are endangering the global economy.
The most powerful signal of disapproval the Europeans could send to Tehran would be to supplement American economic sanctions with their own — the nuclear deal they are so eager to protect, in fact, requires punitive action for breaching enrichment limits. They should also contribute naval assets to help protect the shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf from marauding Iranian speedboats.
If the prospect of standing behind Trump is too much for Europe’s leaders to stomach, the next best thing would be to get out of the way. They should communicate to the regime that all efforts to save the agreement are suspended until Iran ends its aggression against its neighbors and resumes compliance with the nuclear deal. There must be no more talk of lines of credit and sanctions waivers. Instead, they should press Iran to take up Trump’s offer of negotiations — with European mediation, if that helps — or face the consequences without German, French and British support.
Source » bloomberg