EU shares no common ground with Tehran

EU shares no common ground with Tehran

The Iranian leaders and their state-controlled Persian media outlets continue to significantly emphasize Iran’s economic, diplomatic and political ties with the European Union. The predominant narrative that the Iranian regime is spreading presents itself in the following three ideas: That the EU is left with no option other than backing Iran politically; that many European nations will persist in investing their political capital in preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also referred to as the Iran nuclear deal; and that the EU will continue to provide sanctions reliefs to the Islamic Republic. 

Furthermore, the ongoing efforts of some EU members to maintain their heightened rapprochement with Tehran’s ruling clerics are surprising for many scholars, policy analysts and politicians. 

It is worth noting that the theocratic establishment of Iran shares almost no common interests with the EU. Let us take a meticulous look at the geopolitical and strategic landscapes as well as political ideologies between the Islamic Republic and the EU. 

With respect to Iran’s clerical ideology, one of the core pillars of the Islamic revolution has been the export of the revolution and the establishment of a political system similar to that of the Iranian regime in other nations. In fact the rulings mullahs frequently and publicly state their intentions and commitment to promoting such a revolutionary objective, and they have incorporated this critical mission in the Islamic Republic’s constitution. The preamble of the Iranian constitution stipulates that “the mission of the constitution is to create conditions conducive to the development of man in accordance with the noble and universal values of Islam” and that the Iranian constitution “provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution at home and abroad.”

The Iranian regime’s disrespect for the principles of national sovereignty and its ongoing interference in the internal affairs of other countries — such as Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, to name just a few — are crystal clear. Such pursuit of hegemony in the region directly undermines and scuttles the EU’s foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, and stands against the EU’s commitment and belief in self-determination and respect for the key principle of national sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other nations.

Groups such as Hezbollah — which are supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite Quds Force — view terrorism as a powerful instrument in advancing their ideological and geopolitical goals, and pose a terrorist threat to Europe, having killed many Europeans

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Considering the role of non-state actors, Tehran sponsors, supports, trains and arms numerous militia groups, proxies and terrorist-designated groups that pursue anti-European and anti-Western policies. Groups such as Hezbollah — which are supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite Quds Force — view terrorism as a powerful instrument in advancing their ideological and geopolitical goals, and pose a terrorist threat to Europe, having killed many Europeans. The negative implications of Iran’s expansion of its foreign militia networks are a serious threat to Europe’s security. 

Regarding humanitarian issues, while the European Convention on Human Rights strives to protect human rights, the Iranian regime is blatantly violating fundamental human rights. Iran is the world leader in executing people per capita. It is also, according to Amnesty International, a leading executioner of children. In addition, it continues to crack down and systematically discriminate against religious and ethnic minorities including Christians, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds and Afghans. 

In fact, the regime has also systematically resorted to different methods of assassinations to silence its dissidents in Europe and other Western nations. A German court previously concluded that Tehran had orchestrated the assassination of four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. In addition, the US accused Iran’s Quds Force in the botched 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, after seeking the help of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was posing as a Mexican drug cartel member. Most recently, Iran was accused of murdering Arab-Iranian activist Ahmad Mola Nissi, who was assassinated in the Netherlands. 

In addition, when it comes to political ideology, not only do the EU and Iran share no common interests, but they stand on totally the opposite sides of the spectrum. While the EU is representative of democracy, Iran’s political establishment is a Shiite theocratic oligarchy and one unelected man, the supreme leader, enjoys ultimate legal, constitutional and religious authority over the entire nation. More importantly, all forms of freedom (including press, speech and assembly) are heavily restricted, and any opposition to the Shiite theocracy is suppressed with brute force and the iron fist of the regime’s forces. 

These parameters suggest that if the EU, or any European government, stands with the ruling clerics of Iran, it will be making vital miscalculations from geopolitical, strategic, and even economic standpoints. 

The strategic, geopolitical and ideological gaps and differences between Iran and the EU are too deep to be bridged. There is hardly any convergence of interests between the EU and Iran. The Iran regime’s policies are designed to robustly undermine the EU’s national security interests, and the ruling mullahs have not changed their anti-Western political ideology for 40 years, since the establishment of their theocratic oligarchy. It is the time for the EU to revisit its dealings and policy toward Iran’s theocratic regime. 

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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