Iran Review | Dr.Abed Akbari: In the last weeks, a joint statement was issued by the High Representative of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom. They deeply regret that the United States did not extend the waiver of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The statement, in 138 English words, was not even large enough to be an answer. After years of negotiations which led efforts by both sides to a fruitful result, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), while the next steps in the non-proliferation regime were to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test–Ban Treaty (CTBT) worldwide and reduce the number of bombs in the world (14,525 for 9 countries alone), with unilateral actions and extraterrestrial laws of the United States, an international agenda became sterile and barren.
US unilateral actions against Iran were not limited to withdrawing from the JCPOA and sanctions, yet Washington stepped up tensions in West Asia and stabilizing the war shadow by creating new conflicts in the region. It seems rational that Europe, more than any other actor in the neighborhood of the crises of West Asia, appreciating the existence of stable countries as important, but it looks being in a situation where it has not found a suitable solution for weighing its strategic interests and the right ways for achieving them. Tactlessly it is still conceivable for Europe to imagine a strategic alliance with the United States. With the defeat of ISIS, France appointed its ambassador to Iran as Syria’s special envoy for better coordination between the two countries, so before the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iran’s importance and weight in the region was obvious for some actors. Today, Iran – one of the main security actors in the region with full knowledge of how to do security- is pushed to the margins of peace and security talks under the pretext of its growing power, despite the fact that this is particularly dangerous not only for the region but also for Europe.
Iran has always brought indirect profits to Europe on three important issues of the post-globalization trends: preventing the spread of drugs and other organized crime to Europe, preventing the human mobility and fighting against terrorism and, securitizing economic and energetic flows.
However, the post-Soviet American interventionist perspective seems to have many purchasers in the European Union. From the beginning of the US unilateralist withdrawal from the JCPOA, Europe while imagining a future under the auspices of the US Alliance, sought to resolve the problem through appeasement with the United States’ interventionism and liberal democracy imposing, however, it is clear that JCPOA was and is a question of the non-proliferation regime. Europe emphasizing the need to conclude multiple Joint Comprehensive Plans of Action, especially in military and missile discussions, even when it raised an issue that even many European experts considered it against Iran’s sovereignty and called the project defeated in advance.
In the case of JCPOA today, the issue for Europe is not resolving an international case or crisis through diplomacy instead of entering a new military conflict, but it is resisting for protecting international law and peacekeeping in the world. Certainly, the issues of war and the destabilization of West Asia in Europe’s neighborhood remain close, but they are much later than the crisis created by the United States which will change the international order for its benefit. Two years after the withdrawal, it is not yet clear for Europe, seemingly strategic ally of the United States, what Washington wants to replace with the non-proliferation regime, also it is not clear about UNESCO, International health organization and many other multilateral solutions, such an ambiguity exist about the role that Europe will play in new American order.
European role-playing on the eve of the introducing a new American international order
Just a little realism is needed to make it clear that Europe is no longer recognized as an ally of the United States, but Europe as Europe. Consequently, reactions such as the statement on the Israeli aggression, the statement on not extending the waiver of sanctions against Iran, the statement on the US withdrawal from the World Health Organization, etc., cannot be the culmination of Europe’s practical ability to meet the real goal of the United States, which is a long-lasting unfair strategy to dominate the world, and it will last far beyond its current president. Europe must show practical will to confront the United States’ unilateralism and accept that for an indefinite period of time there has been no longer a transatlantic relationship and, that the actions taken by the United States are becoming increasingly distant from Europe and more unrelated to the nature of European Union acting.
Continuing the current passive process, Europe is contributing to a negative shift in the international order by being an accomplice to a declining US dictatorship seeking to establish legal measures to stabilize that negative shift. The United States is implementing development strategies for an international order in which, the presence of the European Union like an island, even in its best form, as a cohesive and powerful entity, will have no fruit for Europe’s future. At the time order establish, it will be too late to try to quest one self’s status, and of course, the US goal is not to allow the EU to remain integrated. Today’s experience shows what the American future holds for all. Europe and other actors are witnessing the disregard for the international order based on multilateralism, neglect of international organizations, and ignoring safeguards and conventions that humans once arranged to maintain security and peace. The United States wants a future in which it can play an undisputed role.
The current international order itself has fundamental flaws and many actors, who sought to eliminate the existing discrimination, challenged it. The international community has never tried to resolve this discrimination and to improve the existing international order. Besides, the United States has ignored the interests of many countries by eroding rules and regulations, which in return led to conflicts between the United States and the revisionist actors.
This situation has caused uncertainty and vacuum. On the issue of JCPOA, despite the fact that Iran was fully committed to it and, Europe was aware of it, the unilateral withdrawal of United States caused an ambiguity. The US formula has been very clear in recent years: “Neither the past can continue, nor the situation in which you benefit, so accept the law that I have just redesigned or we will go to war and uncertainty.” There are many similar examples like the case of Iran: the future of North Korea’s weapons, the Palestinian cause, the European Union Army, customs tariffs and, many others in which the same irrational American logic prevails.
Trump’s engagements will certainly continue after him. The current US approach is to ignore human rights and freedoms, and by shifting meanings and creating a vacuum, it seeks to shape the international order in favor of the United States, in which only American interests are seen. This approach has only one meaning and is the same from the perspective of Iran, China or the European Union. At the international level, all countries are facing the “America First” today. It is up to the United States to dictate where to bomb, which countries to boycott, which countries to establish economic ties with and, all of this is done with the help of a network of global extraterrestrial laws. There is no question about the US strategy, which has a working order to get out of all the pillars of multilateral world order and redefine its national interests, regardless of all allies. What is not clear is Europe’s decision.
Taking small but effective steps in the logical vacuum created by “America First”
Europe itself is a region that suffered a lot from the US-Soviet conflict amid the Cold War. In the not-too-distant future, it will also experience competition between the United States and China. However, Europe has a legislative and legal weight. Besides, other countries, including China and Russia, will come to Europe’s aid if they see Europe’s will and determination to confront the United States and resist its unilateral demands. The practical realization of this resistance is only possible through multilateralism and finding solutions that are born of the hypothesis of confronting unilateralism. These solutions will be very small, but very effective, in the very large and complex context that the United States has designed.
The non-proliferation regime should not and cannot become a political toy in the hands of the United States. Other solutions and mechanisms that can prevent war, discrimination, and the death of thousands of people must be protected. Today, in accordance with legal rights and by showing goodwill and international cooperation, Iran demands the attention of the international community, especially Europe, to take practical action and appropriate consultations to overcome the current logical vacuum and find an alternative path. At the same time, Europe needs to know the Iranian government is primarily accountable to its people that how it has accepted the current logical vacuum and how it still adheres to the JCPOA after two years of tough sanctions. Why people’s life conditions degrade when there has been no violation from Iran.
Thus, Europe’s future actions, including any discussion of extending sanctions against Iran and any excuse to impose further restrictions on that country, will only exacerbate the current vacuum and uncertainty. In the next few months, Europeans may have the last chance to play a role in preventing US unilateralist actions against Iran under the current international order. Also, in a climate of rational vacuum, Europe must expect actors involved to make decisions that may not be logical, peaceful, or legitimate. Iran’s strategic patience has long been running out and, the government must explain to the people why it has accepted to sign such an agreement with this major loss. And that means different possible decisions on the part of Iran and, any decision based on Europe distrust can directly or indirectly jeopardize the security of Europe in its immediate neighborhood. It is time for Europe to consider its interests which is in its transatlantic relationship, the “Europe first”. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Europe will be able to think beyond the pressure of the United States to Europe, or whether even the weak current of pursuing strategic independence for Europe, as Richard Grenell has said, can notice the United States endless pressures to Europe?