Is Europe finally waking up to the true nature of the Iranian regime?
For decades, European officials have been the most ardent supporters of engagement with the Islamic Republic, believing that trade and diplomacy would help soften Tehran’s wrongdoings. It has taken the form of enthusiastic arguments in favor of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the West, a foreign policy priority shared by the Biden administration. Attitudes toward Iran appear to harden as Iran’s deeply troubled policies are recognized at home and abroad.
One of the reasons for the policy change is the fermentation that is happening inside Iran. Since they broke out in response to the death of a young woman in mid-September at the hands of regime security forces, anti-hijab Protests spread across the country despite an increasingly forceful state response that left dozens dead and hundreds imprisoned. That dynamism, in turn, has sparked the imagination of Western policymakers about the potential for radical change in Tehran, with European officials mobilizing sanctions against regime officials charged with cracking down as a way of showing solidarity. is doing.
But at the heart of the European reckoning is Iran’s growing involvement in Ukraine. In recent weeks, the Iranian regime has backed the Kremlin and backed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stalled war effort. Tehran, for example, supplies military supplies such as helmets and bulletproof vests to Russian soldiers deployed to the front lines. More importantly, it has sent Iranian-made drones to the Russian military multiple times and sent military trainers to Crimea to ensure that the Russian military is properly piloting them.
Moscow abuses Iranian aid, including deliberately targeting Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure. In other words, the Islamic Republic is complicit in Russia’s war crimes. “Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground, through the provision of weapons that affect Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed.
In the process, the Iranian regime plunges into Europe’s first continental war in more than half a century, and officials there are eyeing. Officials like us are increasingly aware that they have been ridiculed. In Europe, opinions about re-engagement with Iran are beginning to deteriorate. The resulting message is clear. The Islamic Republic, which has long operated without fear of meaningful consequences from Europe, may have finally crossed the Rubicon.
At least rhetorically, the Biden administration seems to have the same idea. Secretary of State Antony Brinken has publicly said there is no “near-term prospect” of a new nuclear deal with Tehran given the turmoil inside Iran and Russia’s role in supporting the war. Also, the administration’s special envoy for Iran, Rob Murray, claims the White House is preparing “many new sanctions” in response to Iran’s suppression of domestic dissent. The White House’s offer of engagement with Iran, which involves potentially massive sanctions relief in exchange for some kind of nuclear compromise, is still very much on the agenda, a Washington insider says.
In other words, once-idealistic Europeans seem to gravitate towards a more realistic and sober view of Iran than the one dominated in Washington. , because they are beginning to realize what their American counterparts have not yet realized. That is, the Islamic Republic has clearly chosen a side in today’s most important global conflict, wielding direct influence behind Russia’s war against the West.
Ilan Berman is senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author.