Relevant sanctions on Iran have been lifted and immediately Europe runs to make business with the Ayatollahs. Sanctions are a diplomatic coercive measure intended to encourage a country to act accordingly to the established rules, but today the Iranian case shows us (as the North Korean does) that even though sanctions may cause a pinch in nations' economies, they don't necessarily encourage countries to behave any longer. Hodie Pacta Non Sunt Servanta.
Recently a couple of European countries were criticised for having hosted the Iranian president, Mr Rouhani, with the utmost deference naturally granted to Heads of State, since Iran violates the Human Rights of its citizens in a way that they clash with the basic articles of the European Convention of Human Rights:
- Art. 1 Obligation to respect Human Rights (HR)
- Art. 2 Right to Life
- Art. 3 Prohibition of torture
- Art. 5 Right to liberty and security
- Art. 6 Right to a fair trial
- and so on...
However, the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR), despite being the only international human rights instrument, pertains only to the parties of the convention (e.g all members of the Council of Europe) and not even international courts view it as binding:
"Regional human rights treaties, such as the ECHR (..) and the jurisprudence developed there, are persuasive authority which may be of assistance in applying and interpreting the Tribunal's applicable law. Thus, they are not binding of their own accord on the tribunal. They are however authoritative as evidence of international custom" - the ICTR Appeals Chamber (quoted in Carsten Stahn & Larissa van den Herik's paper)Furthermore, in no way or shape does the convention prevent those parties from having trade relations with countries that violate their citizens' rights. That is the price of the Western Life Style.
Europe Sacrifices its Values for a Greater Good
Europe is not exactly in good economic health and we have been recently warned that the economic situation today is worse than in 2007. Therefore, given the ongoing crisis and the migrant crisis that has exerted even greater pressure on European economies and welfare systems, Europe figured that petty things like promoting certain values are counter-productive; thus, at this moment, the European pride is to be shelved for a while...
‘DRAWING INSPIRATION from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance ofThe first step was to invite the Iranian President to visit our Museums, for him to get in touch with our culture, with the power of our creativity, with the very expression of our values of freedom...by covering the nude statues and paintings, in order not to offend
Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law,’ -- second recital of the Preamble of the Treaty of the EU (amended by the Treaty of Lisbon)
Iran Is Presently a Mighty Weapon
Iran, under the revolutionary regime, has an extensive negative HR record and it has been sponsoring global terrorism for decades. However, it now serves a couple of more pressing purposes, like:
- It counter-weights the Sunni global ambitions (Saudi Arabia and Qatar were warned against their sponsoring Sunni Jihadist groups, but thought their money could buy their a way out of reproach forever)
- It has resources that interest Europe (gas and oil – with Russia under sanctions and Israel as the number one European target, they had to turn somewhere [we just wonder why Azerbaijan is not openly on the European agenda though])
- It has money to spend (a paradox for a country that had been under economic punitive measures for four years - “the harshest ever” according to some) and a highly skilled labour force, probably to replace the Chinese production lines – the Iranian proximity to Europe would make the products cheaper, in their mind?
Project Cassandra: Stick and Carrot
Last week, it was reported that the DEA (in conjunction with 7 other countries), within the context of “Project Cassandra” (that targets and monitors the global network of Hezbollah's activities), carried out a major CT operation against Hezbollah, whose BAC (Business Affairs Component, founded by the late former Hezbollah Senior Leader, Imad Mughniyah ) is responsible for moving large quantities of cocaine into the US and Europe (for more details read JPost's report). What is interesting about this bust is its timing: it took place after the lift of coercive measures against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
It's a known fact that Counter-Terrorism operations take a long time to prepare and everything has to be done in a way that covers all legal basis, so that the caught individuals (terrorists and the network that supports them) won't be able to get away in the court of law. However, given the proliferation of academic papers written on Hezbollah – on their activities in Africa and Latin America, for instance – it could be inferred that the authorities have been on the organisation for quite a while; so the timing of this well succeeded operation may be suggest a typical Western stick-and-carrot move: Iran regains access to its funds, assets and the markets but its dogs (through which it spreads Global Terror) are kept in check. It is an interesting way of keeping Iran under the microscope, control its global reach, slightly decrease its regional might, and place the West in a better bargaining position (backed up by the intel recovered during the operation).
Europe is free to trade with Iran, obviously. However, one must question the wisdom of doing so at a time when the clash of civilisations is getting started – trade is good but must Europe sacrifice its values? Doing so reveals weakness and stirs hornets' nests across the region. Anyone who really grasps politics (beyond clichés and populism) knows how much the perception of weakness in the other can affect international relations.
It was reported that the US will increase its military budget for Europe, with Russian aggression in mind – what if Russia is not the only American concern? Looking at Europe's behaviour, at the situation in the old continent, it's not too far fetched to think that the United States believe they will have to soon rescue Western Europe, once again.