March 17, 2007
Let’s face it. Iran’s nuclear drive is a “train with no brake and reverse gear,” with a driver named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Unless the world leaders find the stop button quickly, a collision might be inevitable. That is an eventuality nobody wants to see. All indications call for need of a new, bold initiative but the EU appears hell-bent on pursuing the threadbare policy of appeasing Tehran once more and the mullahs are always ready to exploit all these signs of craven weakness.
Since Khomeini’s death in 1989 and the so-called “pragmatic” presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani, the EU has continually banked on dealing with a moderating faction within the Iranian regime.
In 1997, Europe saw a new hope — the election of Mohammed Khatami, a “moderate” as president. The appeasement policy of the European countries for the next eight years enabled Tehran to get closer to obtain nuclear weapons. The list of European complicity, acquiescence and groveling submission to the mullahs went on and on.
On top of it all, the EU in 2002 proscribed the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), the main Iranian resistance movement, as a terrorist organisation. A move described by many as an attempt to “pay the price of appeasement towards the Iranian regime by sanctioning its opposition” depriving them of their most basic human rights and freedom. Senior European diplomats, including former U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, have acknowledged the PMOI figured prominently as a bargaining chip in a bridge-building effort with Tehran, when the mullahs insisted on them being listed as terrorists in exchange for lucrative contracts.
The appeasement fantasy completely sank in 2005 when the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, managed to manipulate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into power who was a die-hard revolutionary guard commander, as president.
One would expect that given the gravity of the situation, some lessons would have been learned by EU policymakers.
The European Court of Justice on December 12, annulled the “joint decision of the Council of Ministers of the European Union” to place the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) on the EU terror list. It overturned a 2002 decision to freeze all PMOI European assets.
In its ruling, the court said the group was not given a fair hearing to defend itself. “Certain fundamental rights and safeguards, including the right to a fair hearing, the obligation to state reasons and the right to effective judicial protection are, as a matter of principle, fully applicable,” the court said.
Instead of paying heed to the law, the European Council announced on January 30 that it has “decided to provide the PMOI with a statement of reasons for keeping it on the EU’s ‘asset freeze list’ of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, and to give the PMOI one month to present its views, together with any supporting documentation”.
It is obvious that the European Council has set itself above the highest Court in Europe in pursuit of Tehran again.
This has created tremendous backlash among politicians and human rights activists throughout Europe. On 8 March, simultaneous with the EU summit, in a conference in Brussels parliamentarians from various European countries presented statements signed by 1,000 parliamentarians from 23 European countries condemning Council of Minister’s defiance of the Court ruling.
On the same day, 30,000 Iranian exiles took part in a rally in front of the summit building and strongly condemned the Council of Minister’s defiance. The protestors called on the EU to comply with the court ruling and described efforts to maintain the PMOI in the terror list as part of the shameful policy of appeasement of Tehran rulers.
Legally, this is an open contempt of the European Courts, a worthless charade to make a mockery of the law upon which the European Member States rely.
Politically, it is of even greater concern, as since this is nothing but another pathetic attempt to appease Iran’s fascist mullahs and president Ahmadinejad.
The timing could not be any worse.
At the time that the European Council should be confronting Tehran from a position of strength, it has opted, once again, to display weakness. The Council of Ministers’ attempt to tarnish those opposing the mullahs, instead of offering support, is scandalous.
If it was unjust, wrong, and ill-conceived to place a legitimate resistance movement on the terror list in 2002 to appease Tehran’s terror-masters, given the current political settings, this approach is a fiasco of mammoth proportions in 2007.
This move would simply embolden the mullahs to push their agenda on all fronts even faster. They have now seen that European diplomats are willing to compromise their most sacred principals, the rule of law, in their pursuit of appeasement.
Even a scant knowledge of European history would show the shallowest scholar that attempts to appease Hitler cost 60 million lives. Sir Winston Churchill famously said of those who sought peace with Hitler at any cost: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
Let’s hope that those shaping EU policy towards the ruling theocratic regime in Iran have read their history books.
Joseph Omidvar is a researcher on Iranian affairs and an editor for International Study Committee for Change in Iran: http://www.iraniscc.com.