Outside View: We should not send mixed messages to Iran

By RYSZARD CZARNECKI, UPI Outside View Commentator

BRUSSELS, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Describing appeasement, Konrad Adenauer, the German chancellor after the second world war once said: "The one sure way to conciliate a tiger is to allow oneself to be devoured." This advice seems not to be taken seriously by a minority group of my colleagues in the European Parliament's "Iran Delegation" who are keen to visit Iran at the end of this month.

The West has tried every possible incentive to please the ruling mullahs in Iran. A friend of mine in the Iranian resistance said: "The support that this medieval regime has received from the West goes far beyond any other dictatorships in recent Iranian history. One might be astonished to know that the West policy during the past decade has actually strengthened the ayatollahs and hampered their opposition."


In the late 1990s, the United States, followed by the United Kingdom and the European Union, designated the Iranian main democratic opposition, People's Mujahedin of Iran, as a "foreign terrorist organization."


The move was described as "a good will gesture" toward Iran.

After years of legal battles, PMOI prevailed in all EU and U.S. courts and was taken off these blacklists; with the last magnificent victory on Sept. 28 when Hillary Clinton removed this movement from the U.S. blacklist.

The world was alarmed by Iran's nuclear ambitions in 2002, after the Iranian resistance coalition -- the National Council of Resistance of Iran -- relying on information received from PMOI members in Iran, revealed for the first time the existence of two top secret nuclear sites.

The Iranian opposition called for tough sanctions on Iran and strongly refuted the propaganda of the mullahs that their nuclear program was popular in Iran!

Instead of listening to them, the EU diplomacy under the leadership of Spanish Socialist Javier Solana and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, started a useless chain of negotiations to halt that nuclear program. These negotiations are still continuing, this time by EU foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton.

But what have we achieved from negotiations with Iran so far?

We have only given them a decade more time to get closer to their nuclear bomb. The mullahs have also been busy exporting their branch of radical Islam to neighboring countries in a bid to try dominating the region. They are also actively sending troops and arms to Syria's Bashar Assad to prevent democracy to flourish in the Middle East.


Needless to say, that additional time has also been used to kill hundreds of protesters and opposition activists longing for democracy in Iran. Thousands of innocent people have been imprisoned for demanding freedom.

However after wasting 10 years, the West is now applying a level of economic sanctions and oil embargo demanded by the NCRI during the past three decades. On Monday, the EU foreign ministers imposed new tougher sanctions on Tehran in the energy, transport and financial sector, as well as extending existing sanctions to new individuals.


Sending mixed messages to Iran

While the world in general seems to start realizing that threats from Iran will not be solved with endless negotiations and that more sanctions are needed to curb the mullahs, a group of my colleagues in the European Parliament seem keen to take act in the opposite direction.

The Iran Delegation in the European Parliament, traditionally in the hands of the German Greens, seems more like an instrument formed with the help of the Iranian Embassy in Brussels some years ago to serve Iran's interests right in the middle of our democratic institution.

Far from helping to promote democracy in Iran, the delegation seems to have as its prime objective to travel to Iran and get cozy with the mullahs while making Iranian representatives feel at home in Europe by organizing "interparliamentary" meetings for them in Brussels.


But what sort of people is the delegation expecting to meet in Teheran this time? A request to meet the so-called opposition leaders have been rejected by the regime. Their Iranian counterpart and host, Kazem Jalali, deputy chair of security and foreign affairs committee of Iranian Parliament, has been involved in the regime's repression machine since his early days.

On his website, he has posted pictures of his time in the paramilitary Bassidj force and the revolutionary guards. He proudly says that he was selected by an ayatollah for the Disciplinary Committee in the university, whose only task was to silence the voice of dissent.

In one of his recent speeches, he cites "the victory of Hezbollah" over "the Zionist regime" during the 33-day war as one of Iranian regime's "greatest achievements."

Apart from heading the friendship group with European Parliament, he also presides over the friendship groups for relations with Syria and Russia. This is not the sort of company our Parliament would need!

Iran's human rights violations have reached new heights recently. Last week at least 14 hangings were carried out in Iran. Last week U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran Ahmad Shaheed released an alarming report saying human rights activists in Iran are subjected to beatings with batons, mock hangings, rape, sleep deprivation and threats that family members will be raped or killed.


This is definitely the worst time for our Parliament to send any delegation to Iran. It would weaken our international stand and send mixed signals just when sanctions are starting to work and the mullahs feel they have to start paying a price for their constant violation of international obligations.

As EU foreign ministers have imposed tougher sanctions on Iran, the European Parliament should not be seen heading in the opposite direction.


(Ryszard Czarnecki is a member of the European Parliament and former European minister of Poland.)


(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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