What should Europe’s policy be?

Hamid Enayat
Brussels, Belgium. 26th November 2018. European flag and flag of Islamic Republic of Iran stand in headquarters of EU Commission.

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) For years, the allies of the mullahs’ regime and the supporters of the policy of appeasement in the European Union have denied the Iranian people’s desire to change their lives. But today, no one can hide the fact that the Iranian people are eager to overthrow the theocracy. Indeed, the widespread and ongoing uprising we are witnessing today, which is being severely repressed by the country’s authorities (there are reports of more than 30,000 arrests and more than 750 deaths…), is a clear call for a change in the EU’s policy towards the Iranian mullahs.

As the European Parliament stated in its resolution of Wednesday 25 January calling on the EU and its member states to blacklist the IRGC, the EU must take effective action, including designating the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity. Symbolic designations of individuals can no longer be effective in the current circumstances. There is no major terrorist war or crime in the region (Middle East) without the Pasdaran acting as a direct or supporting force. Inside Iran, there is hardly any crime that is not committed by the Pasdaran. We have been stressing the need to label them as terrorists for many years.

Since 2010, the Iranian Resistance has been calling on Western governments to list the Pasdaran as a terrorist organization. The Pasdaran is the main agent of repression in Iran. Iranian protesters, therefore, see its terrorist designation as a measure to support the people. That is why the Iranians strongly support the resolution adopted by the European Parliament.

The destructive policy of appeasement

For years, the EU’s policy has been to promote dialogue with the mullahs’ regime at the expense of listening to the voice of the Iranian people and the resistance. This policy has proved to be destructive, not only for the Iranian people, but also for Europe. Look at the number of European or bi-national citizens currently being held hostage in Iran. Europe’s failure to hold the regime to account has given it impunity for its crimes against the Iranian people and impunity for terrorism and hostage-taking in Europe.

The EU’s backtracking, manifested by Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief and Federica Mogherini’s worthy successor, in what should ironically be called “political courage”, is a sign of the European Commission’s willingness to continue its destructive policy of complacency. All the more so as this backtracking (the fact that the Pasdaran has not been designated as a terrorist organisation, despite the amendment proposed by the Parliament) is directly motivated by unfounded analyses invented by the Iranian regime, such as the false image of a powerful and stable regime with no democratic alternative.

A strong alternative in Iran

The Iranian people have clearly shown that they want freedom, and that they want to build a republic based on democratic values. After years of trying to pretend that there was no resistance in Iran, the regime is now forced to acknowledge the role of the resistance units created by the PMOI in recent years. It is these resistance units that have made the continuation of the revolution possible. In a logical extension of its argument, the regime now wants to spread the idea that there is no viable democratic alternative, claiming that the overthrow of the regime would ensure a return to the old dictatorship or, at best, chaos. 

But the Iranian people have shown in their uprising, every day on the streets, that this claim is false. The unity of the entire Iranian people and the existence of a widespread popular resistance refute all such claims. The Iranian people fully understand that unlike the monarchical systems in Europe, the monarchy in Iran has been a symbol of dictatorship for the past 200 years. But in the uprising of the last few months, the Iranian people have chanted thousands of times that they do not want the previous or the present dictatorship. They want freedom and democracy. Full stop!

Blacklisting the Pasdaran

It is time for the EU to adopt a new policy. The terrorist designation of the IRGC is an urgent demand of the Iranian people. Today it is also demanded by the representatives of 450 million people in Europe. The High Representative’s response to the initiative to blacklist the IRGC is shameful. The EU’s refusal to implement the resolution of the people’s representatives is tantamount to bowing to a terrorist regime.

This is a political decision, and only a political decision, by European governments. It does not require a judicial decision, as suggested by Josep Borrell, so any apology in this regard is unacceptable. The regime’s foreign minister said on Monday that the EU High Representative had assured him that the EU would not blacklist the Pasdaran, while calling the European Parliament resolution a show. It is dishonest to claim sympathy for the Iranian protesters while refusing to take action against their main oppressor, the Pasdaran, under false presences.

The EU’s failure is tantamount to continuing the destructive policy of appeasement against the wishes of the European people. Regime change in Iran is, of course, the responsibility of the Iranian people. But the people expect Western governments to recognize their struggle to overthrow the regime. And the right of the brave youth to defend themselves against the terrorism instigated by the IRGC.

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Brussels Morning is a daily online newspaper based in Belgium. BM publishes unique and independent coverage on international and European affairs. With a Europe-wide perspective, BM covers policies and politics of the EU, significant Member State developments, and looks at the international agenda with a European perspective.
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Hamid Enayat is an expert on Iran and a writer based in Paris. He is also a human rights activist and has been a frequent writer on Iranian and regional issues for thirty years. He has been writing passionately on secularism and fundamental freedoms, and his analysis sheds light on various geopolitics and complex issues concerning the Middle East and Iran.