E.U. Takes a Step Away from Appeasement

Last Monday the European Union passed its toughest set of sanctions yet against the Iranian regime. My understanding is that finally, after many years of talk and attempts to “engage” with Iranian leadership, European leaders are finally recognizing that a brutal regime cannot be appeased with such talk – and that if anything, engagement has bought the regime time to continue crushing internal opposition while redoubling their efforts to get nuclear weapons.

Today I interviewed Saba Farzan, an Iranian-German journalist who tells me she is in contact with Iranian opposition leaders who recently managed to escape Iran for Europe. She says the opposition leaders with whom she has spoken favor these tough sanctions.

“The target of these sanctions is the Revolutionary Guard,” she said, referring to the elite military unit created to protect the mullahs, “not the Iranian middle class.”

Farzan, who has written for the Wall Street Journal, says she believes dialogue and engagement are not going to be useful tools in dealing with this totalitarian regime. Iranian-born, she says she would vastly prefer to see a military option avoided, and the best hope for that is crippling sanctions that bankrupt the regime. She thinks sanctions do have a chance – if enough countries come on board.

“I favor tough sanctions on the Iranian regime,” she said. “We need them to run out of money.”

She believes further dialogue and engagement will only strengthen the regime and undermine any chance of the sanctions succeeding.  She and other German-Iranians have joined with Stop the Bomb, a Berlin-based human rights organization dedicated to preventing Tehran from attaining nuclear capability, in lobbying for tough sanctions and zero tolerance for engaging the regime. This week, she joined Stop the Bomb in condemning a German politician, Dr. Rainer Stinner, foreign policy speaker of the German Freedom Democratic Party (FDP) for traveling to Iran.

“There is nothing left to say to this regime; we talked for 7 years and the results are exactly zero,” says Farzan. “This [Iranian] regime is not capable of answering urgent questions the international community has. This regime is repressing its own population. This regime has an awful human rights record. Dr. Stinner’s explanation [for traveling to meet with Iranian leaders] is he wants to have dialogue about how Iran is trying to stabilize Afghanistan. This is nonsense. Iran is not interested in a stable Afghanistan. Or in a stable Iraq. Iran is training Taliban fighters and they are killing our soldiers in Afghanistan. The solution is not to travel and talk to a regime that is killing our [German] soldiers and those of our international allies.”

Says Stop the Bomb spokesman Jonathan Weckerle, “Instead of further isolating and pressuring the illegitimate and criminal regime in Iran, such a visit will strengthen the regime diplomatically and flatter it as a partner for dialogue.”

Apparently one Iranian bank may still be doing business in Germany. I plan to look into this issue.

More to come.

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