European Powers’ Policy towards Iran

2019/06/01 | Opinion, political

Strategic Council Online: Europe does not seem to tilt toward the United States, but at the same time INSTEX too is unlikely to take some effective action. Abdolreza Faraji Rad - European Affairs Expert

In an overall assessment of the European countries’ policy towards Iran, we can say that they share almost the same line of policy. None of these countries, including the UK, France, Germany and other EU states really want the failure of the Iran Nuclear Agreement and Iran’s pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But when it comes to the recent tensions, the policy of European countries is different; in this respect, Britain is trying to get closer to America and follow its line of policies. London has adopted a similar policy line towards other countries. In other words, as soon as there are conflict or tension somewhere Britain sides with the United States. In the case of the US invasion of Afghanistan, Britain was one of the first countries contributing military support to the United States. In the case of Iraq, Britain immediately announced it was ready to join the US.

Over the past few weeks, as tensions have risen between Tehran and Washington, we are witnessing that London while supporting the JCPOA is acting in a way that if there is a problem between Iran and the US, it will naturally side with the US and join the US front.

The British excuse for declaring this position is that they have made numerous investments in the region to keep which they must enter into war. But if they are asked in the event of a military conflict why should they enter a war with Iran in order to maintain these investments and fight alongside a country that is the initiator of war and has pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action they would have no response.

In relation to other countries, such as France and Germany, it should also be noted that the French almost followed their past policies in the recent tensions between Iran and the United States. That is to say in the same way they supported the JCPOA with some reservations (they always raise the issue of the Iranian missiles), they take very cautious stances about a possible confrontation between Iran and the US, and they are trying to put fire in the ashes. It could be said that among the European powers, Germany has had the best position in relation to the recent tensions. On the very first days of escalation of tension between Tehran and Washington, especially when Iran declared the suspension of some of its JCPOA commitments and set a 2-month deadline to Europe to take the next step, the Germans put the blame on Donald Trump for pulling out of the JCPOA and causing all these problems.

After tensions heightened, Germany tried to calm down the situation and even announced that it will send their political director to Tehran. Media reports on this issue quoted German officials as having said that Berlin would not ask for Washington’s permission to send its director general to Tehran.

To sum it up, Britain’s policies in these tensions, despite announcing that they comply with the Iran Nuclear Agreement are closer to the United States; French policy has not changed, and Germany has kept a distance from the United States to some extent. Other European countries, especially Eastern Europe, have kept mum in this regard and have not made any specific comments. In fact, Iran’s issue is not important for most of these countries, while many leaders in these countries endorse the right-wing policies of Trump, especially in Eastern Europe, and they naturally do not take a particular position on this matter, although they know that Washington is guilty.

With regard to possible scenarios in relations between Iran and Europe, given the US hindrances, it does not seem that these countries would tilt towards the United States, but at the same time, it would not be possible for INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to take some effective action. Europeans keep saying that they are severely under pressure and are even insulted by the Americans. But now it seems that they are not ready to display some dedication. Meanwhile, although Europe has been under US pressure and insulted, they have signed an important security deal that they must try to protect. This effort requires the cooperation of China and Russia in order to find a solution.

Europe can take advantage of the two-month opportunity and take some positive action through new initiatives and exchange of ideas with Iranian, Russian, Chinese, and even Indian sides. Indeed, they do not even have to engage Iran directly to avoid US pressures, but they can benefit from initiatives and circumvent part of the sanctions with the cooperation of Iran and other member states of the JCPOA.

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