When it comes to Iran, the EU is hopelessly naive  

Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran (Copyright: By Official website of Ali Khamenei - http://english.khamenei.ir/photo/3331/Leader-s-Meeting-with-Air-Force-Commanders-and-Personnel, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46931509 )

By Professor Samuel Furfari, formerly a senior official at the Energy Directorate-General of the European Commission (1982-2018), Professor em. at Université libre de Bruxelles 

In the wake of Hamas’s unprecedented brutal attack on Israel, the EU’s strategic error in continuing to regard Iran as a potential negotiating partner has become even more apparent.

There is little doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran provided financial and logistical support for the horrific massacre in Israel on 7 October. Gatestone reports that the details of Iran’s involvement are now coming to light, although Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed on 3 November that the Islamic Republic of Iran had nothing to do with it: “The international community is constantly talking about Iran and its military plans, but the 7 October attack was a 100% Palestinian operation, planned and executed by Palestinians for the Palestinian cause”. For the head of Hezbollah, Iran’s allies have also mobilised throughout the region in support of Hamas, praising the Iraqi and Yemeni groups who “entered this blessed battle” by claiming responsibility for the shots fired at Israel.

Iran is taking a cautious approach, on the one hand wishing to avoid direct confrontation and, on the other, blurring its red lines to avoid falling into this trap. To this end, it relies on proxy militias throughout the region to launch modest strikes aimed at Israel and US military bases in Iraq and Syria. It’s a strategy that has been tried and tested for years; through Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Iran likes to make it known that it supports these “resistance forces”, while claiming that it has nothing to do with them because they act independently.

The voice of Iran in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, has just made it clear indirectly that Iran has understood that it is better not to intervene more openly in the war in Gaza. The American flotilla in the Levant Sea proved to be a good deterrent.

As a result, the United States and its allies must seriously reconsider their complacent attitude towards the criminals and their supporters who have massacred more than 1,400 innocent people and kidnapped 240 civilian hostages. The time has come for objective analysis.

The EU’s naive approach towards Iran and energy policy

The EU and its Member States intervened in the war in Ukraine without measuring the consequences for the security of its energy supply. It is no small matter to do without energy imports from Russia: Russian gas accounts for 40% of EU imports, oil and oil products for 33%, coal for 26% and uranium for 20%.

The EU realised – too late – that its strategy of dismantling the fossil fuel economy and replacing it with expensive and intermittent renewable energies had created an energy shock. To do without Russian oil, the EU had to lose face with Venezuela. Remember the meeting between Emmanuel Macron and President Nicolas Maduro in the corridors of COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh last November, a meeting that was supposed to prepare the ground for the transition away from fossil fuels. The Frenchman told the man who was an undesirable interlocutor before the war in Ukraine that “the continent is being replenished”, meaning that Russian oil would have to be replaced by Venezuelan oil.

Similarly, and more discreetly, the EU’s green energy agenda has led it to seek a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country that possesses almost as much natural gas as Russia. A decision that ignores the fact that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on 26 October 2005: “Whoever recognises Israel will be consumed by the fire of the Muslim nation’s wrath. To recognise the Zionist regime is to recognise the defeat of the Muslim world […], the foul stain must be wiped off the face of the earth”. On 14 December 2005, he declared that the Holocaust of the Jews was a legend. Are you surprised that Hamas behaves like Nazis?

Another sign that the EU has not taken the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran seriously is the creation of INSTEX (Instrument for the Support of Trade). In May 2018, when the Trump administration decided to withdraw from the Vienna Agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, accusing Tehran of continuing to develop nuclear weapons, the US imposed an embargo on Iran. The EU moved quickly to circumvent US geopolitics in order to continue trading with the Islamic Republic of Iran and lifted all sanctions on 16 January 2016. In September 2018, the European Union, through its foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, announced in a joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif its intention to create a legal mechanism to facilitate financial transactions with Iran. The INSTEX clearing house was created in January 2019 to facilitate trade with Iran without the use of the US dollar. Although its name is reminiscent of a medicine, INSTEX was a geopolitical mistake that demonstrated the EU’s confidence in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Finally, on 9 March, INSTEX’s ten shareholders decided to liquidate it because of “the continued blocking by the Islamic Republic”…

The Islamic Republic of Iran, which is helping Russia in its conflict in Ukraine, is taking advantage of the international turmoil to annoy and add an extra layer of difficulty by choosing this moment to do what it has been promising since the second oil crisis in 1979: destroy Israel.


Originally published in French on Factuel

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