Appeasement will only embolden Tehran

Appeasement will only embolden Tehran

Appeasement will only embolden Tehran
Iranian President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at Shahid Beheshti conference hall on June 21, 2021, in Tehran, Iran. (Getty Images)
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The Iranian regime’s recent selection of a new president who has been implicated in mass executions in 1988 and egregious human rights violations appears to have been ignored by the EU and the Joe Biden administration which continue to pursue the same old appeasement policies toward Tehran.
After Iran named Ebrahim Raisi as the country’s next president — a major blow to the Iranian people along with advocates of democracy and human rights — the Biden administration shockingly announced that it is considering lifting sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Soft policy toward Tehran’s theocratic establishment will empower Iranian leaders to become more belligerent, oppressive and aggressive. Winston Churchill famously warned against appeasing the aggressor, saying: “Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured. But I fear, I fear greatly, the storm will not pass. It will rage and it will roar, ever more loudly, ever more widely. It will spread to the South; it will spread to the North.”
History has repeatedly proven that appeasement will only embolden and empower a rogue state. But the Biden administration and the EU appear determined to pursue this dangerous policy with a regime that is a top state sponsor of terrorism, according to the US State Department, and a leading human rights violator. On July 2, 2021, sanctions against three Iranians were lifted under Executive Order 13382. These individuals had been sanctioned by the previous US administration because of their involvement in advancing the regime’s ballistic missile program.
The EU is also forging ahead with plans to revive the nuclear deal and lift sanctions against the mullahs, even after the Iranian regime’s choice of Raisi as its next president. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that an agreement was “very close,” adding: “We have invested a lot of political capital, so I hope that the result of the elections is not going to be the last obstacle that will ruin the negotiation process. As far as I know, this is not going to be the case.”
Furthermore, on June 10, the Biden administration removed sanctions on three former Iranian government officials and two Iranian companies involved in the country’s oil industry. The administration also previously revoked the designation of the Houthis, an Iranian proxy in Yemen, as a terrorist group. In addition, it is disregarding the Iranian regime sending a destroyer, the Sahand, and a support vessel, the intelligence-gathering Makran, to Venezuela. The Makran set sail on the mission “with seven high-speed missile-attack craft strapped to its deck,” according to a US Naval Institute report.
Borrell said on June 20, 2021, that lifting sanctions against the Iranian government will bring peace. Has the Biden administration and the EU already forgotten the disastrous outcome of appeasing the mullahs in 2015 when the Barack Obama administration and the bloc reached a deal with Tehran to lift sanctions?
Obama said at the time that he was “confident” the deal would “meet the national security needs of the US and our allies.” Throughout that time, the EU and the US administration not only initiated and expanded appeasement policies, but also made unprecedented concessions in an attempt to dissuade the ruling clerics from their internal and external aggression. The US and the EU met the Iranian leaders with generosity and flexibility every step of the way.
However, instead of bringing peace and curbing Iran’s malign behavior at home and abroad, appeasement gave Iran’s rulers a newfound global legitimacy. The removal of sanctions generated billions of dollars for the country’s military institution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as for militia and terror groups.

Soft policy toward Tehran’s theocratic establishment will empower Iranian leaders to become more belligerent, oppressive and aggressive.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Tehran used that influx of revenue to expand its influence throughout the region, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. Iran’s aggressive expansion campaign proved immensely successful. Iranian-armed Houthis ratcheted up efforts to cause death and destruction in Yemen, while Hezbollah escalated its involvement and control of large swathes of Syrian territory. Houthi rocket launches aimed at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia increased, thousands of Hezbollah foot soldiers were deployed in Syria, and southern Israel was subjected to near-constant bombardment by Iranian-funded Hamas rockets.
It is incumbent on the Biden administration and the EU to halt their appeasement policy toward the Iranian regime, particularly after the ruling clerics’ choice of Raisi as president. Appeasement will only empower and embolden the Tehran regime.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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