Israel: Beware the Shadow of Iran
Analysis. Israel’s president had a message to deliver in Europe this week: beware of Iran.
“Where Iran casts a shadow, human rights recede,” Israeli president Isaac Herzog wrote in a prominent op-ed as he began a visit to Brussels, the administrative center of the European Union.
Israel’s president is that nation’s head of state. It is largely a ceremonial post — the executive power being vested in the cabinet led by the prime minister — but the president does have an important role to play domestically and abroad. In this case Herzog was in Brussels to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. And while he was there he wanted to be sure key European and NATO leaders understood the growing menace of Iran.
Israel knows that danger well. Iran very literally poses an existential threat to Israel’s existence. But Herzog wants Europeans to know that Ayatollah Khamenei is intent on “exporting the revolution,” which means exporting oppression. Iran boosts violent proxies around the Middle East, he said, and now we see Iran working with Russia in Ukraine.
“Increasingly, Israel and Europe share not only democratic values but acute strategic interests,” said Herzog. “Europe cannot afford to allow Iran to continue sowing havoc in the Middle East because this regime knows no bounds and has come all the way to Europe’s door.”
This wariness of Iran appears to be taking hold more and more in capitals on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S., Britain, and European Union all slapped new sanctions on Tehran this week. They were particularly spurred by the totalitarian state’s brutal treatment of protestors who continue to stand up in defiance of the regime after the mid-September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the “morality police” (read more in this IFA article).
“Along with our partners, we will continue to hold the Iranian regime accountable so long as it relies upon violence, sham trials, the execution of protesters, and other means of suppressing its people,” said U.S. Treasury official Brian Nelson.
In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives nearly unanimously this week approved a resolution supporting the Iranian demonstrators and calling on the Biden administration for more sanctions and strategies to foil the regime’s use of technology to further repression.
“Today, the House reaffirmed with one voice our commitment to support these brave protestors, who are more resolved than ever to fight this regime…. the United States will continue to do all it can to hold the regime, which is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, accountable,” said the resolution’s chief sponsor, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.).
Among its latest actions, the U.S. took particular aim at a foundation that the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) uses to fund its operations abroad. The EU did not specifically name the IRGC — the Ayatollah’s special security outfit complete with air and sea units — but did sanction individuals and units. However, the European Parliament wants the EU to go further. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) recently passed a resolution declaring the need for “further adjustments in the EU’s position towards Iran.” In particular, they want the IRGC added to the EU terrorist list.
Taking such a step on the IRGC worries some European leaders who hope to re-engage nuclear nonproliferation talks with the regime. But opinions appear to be shifting — notably even that of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who this month signaled support for the harder line on the IRGC.
One MEP from Germany, where this debate is perhaps the most intense in the EU, recently declared, “The time for an ambiguous policy is over. As long as the brutal protests continue, we should not negotiate. As long as the IRGC terrorize their own people and the region, we should treat them as terrorists.”
Notably, the European Parliament’s resolution also calls out Iran’s “large-scale, sophisticated and violent transnational repression” that uses direct action and proxies to intimidate, kidnap, and even kill opposing voices — including, the Parliament states, in the EU.
As a case in point just last month the IRGC was fingered by Geman law enforcement as being behind a series of assaults on synagogues in that nation. A 2021 report by Freedom House details additional recent attacks, including assassinations in the Netherlands and Turkey, a bomb plot in France, and more.
In his piece this week, President Herzog said, “For years, Israel has been warning that the IRGC is the chief arm of Iran’s strategy of suppression and subjugation. It has taken a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests to make this point abundantly clear to the democratic world. And the proscription of the IRGC sends an important message to the regime that the world won’t tolerate its destructive behavior.”
“Those eager to close a deal with Iran in order to profit from its exports should remember that its main export is carnage.” Herzog added.
Will you pray for leaders in the U.S., Europe, Israel, and beyond as they contend with the intensifying threat from Iran? May light and liberty break through there, and may the Lord especially watch over our Iranian brothers and sisters in Christ who reside there or have fled abroad.
How are you praying for a move of God in Iran? Share your prayers and scriptures below.
Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena. Photo Credit: mostafa meraji on Unsplash.
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