The European Union’s statement this week condemning Iran over the recent airstrikes on Saudi Arabia’s key oil industry sites was a tawdry piece of political cowardice. Not only tawdry, but dangerous as well.
For the EU is giving credence to Washington’s intensified attempts to demonize Iran, imposing ever-harsher economic sanctions and escalating tensions that could explode into an all-out war. Ironically, this is in spite of the EU claiming to be facilitating diplomacy to promote peace and security in the Middle East.
To be more precise, it wasn’t an EU joint statement issued at the United Nations general assembly this week. It was a statement formulated by only three members of the bloc: Britain, France and Germany. In practice, however, the biggest members of the EU were speaking on behalf of the others. (Full statement here.)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated the following:
“We condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on oil facilities on Saudi territory on September 14, 2019 in Abqaiq and Khurais, and reaffirm in this context our full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its population. It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.”
Thus, the Europeans are repeating assertions made by the United States and Saudi Arabia by which they accuse Iran of being responsible for firing drones and cruise missiles at the vital Saudi oil installations. No credible proof has so far been presented to support such an assertion.
The European powers are engaging in a reprehensible blame game which will only embolden further Washington’s reckless aggression against Iran.
Tehran has categorically rejected all accusations that it was in some way involved in the airstrikes against Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni Houthi rebels have from the outset following the attacks claimed full responsibility.
Iran may support the Yemeni rebels and have at some time provided weapon technology, but the Houthis are capable of developing and deploying their own fire power.
By blaming Iran, the US and Europeans are giving political cover to Saudi Arabia and its nefarious role in starting and waging a genocidal war against Yemen for the past four years. It is arguably the right of the Yemenis to retaliate against Saudi Arabia in acts of self-defense. And it is in Iran’s right to support the Yemenis, just as the US, British and French support Saudi Arabia. Why should there be a double standard?
What is even more despicable is that the European trio (the so-called E3) have been massive weapons suppliers to Saudi Arabia, in particular Britain and France. The British and French (and Americans, of course) have made hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years from weaponizing the Saudi war on Yemen, even though that has led to nearly 100,000 civilian deaths. Why doesn’t the E3 issue condemnation, rather than “solidarity” to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, over this genocidal slaughter?
A further aspect to the joint statement issued by Britain, France and Germany is that these powers are signaling their support for US President Donald Trump’s efforts at sabotaging the international nuclear accord with Iran. That landmark deal was co-signed by the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China back in July 2015.
Trump reneged on the UN-endorsed treaty when he unilaterally walked away from it in May 2018. It was typical American bad faith and backsliding whenever international agreements don’t suit their selfish interests.
Russia and China continue to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is known formally as). Iran has recently begun to suspend certain commitments, such as increasing stocks of enriched uranium. The Iranian position of partial non-compliance is understandable. The US has trashed its obligations to the deal, and the Europeans have barely stepped up to the plate to implement sanctions relief for Iran, which is mandated by the JCPOA. Four years after the deal was done!
Britain, France and Germany claim to be still committed to the nuclear deal, according to a press statement by EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Federica Mogherini at the UN this week.
But it is evident that, on the contrary, the E3 troika is instead moving to undermine the JCPOA. Blaming Iran with groundless accusations of attacking Saudi Arabia is part of the sinister shift by stealth. The day before the E3 issued their joint statement, Britain’s Boris Johnson was disparaging the nuclear as a “bad deal” and urged a renegotiation for what he sycophantically called a “Trump deal”.
Here is another weasel-worded section from the EU joint statement:
“Conscious of the importance of collective efforts to guarantee regional stability and security, we reiterate our conviction that the time has come for Iran to accept negotiation [sic] on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery… We urge Iran to engage in such a dialogue and refrain from further provocation and escalation.”
That is a clear – albeit with backhanded verbosity – attempt to pressure Iran into accepting Trump’s demand for the JCPOA to be replaced by further restrictions on Iran’s rights to pursue self-defense and normal regional and international relations. In weak-kneed fashion, the EU is augmenting Trump’s agenda of demonizing and criminalizing Iran so that it might succumb to subjugation.
Why the Europeans are acting with such cynicism is to conceal the glaring fact of their own weakness vis-a-vis Washington’s dictates and imperialist bullying. They should be admonishing the Americans for bad faith and reckless aggression; they should be condemning Saudi Arabia for a merciless slaughter in Yemen; they should be with-holding lucrative weapons sales to Saudi Arabia if they were really interested in peace; and if the Europeans really were genuine about non-proliferation and Middle Eastern stability, they should be whole-heartedly implementing the nuclear accord with Iran and providing the country the normalized economic trade that it is entitled to – just as Russia and China have done.
But no. And so to cover up their spinelessness, the Europeans are obliged to gang up with Washington to blame the victim of imperialist abuse – Iran. Such European cowardice is leading to more conflict.