Paris is playing the role of organiser in the efforts to project a “Unified Europe” and the country is trying to get European leaders on the same page with contentious issues such as potential future sanctions on Iran. Furthermore, preparations are already underway for the European Parliament elections.
Iran is keeping a close eye on France’s moves – both on an international scale and with regards to the Middle East. Following immense domestic pressure after weeks of protests and anti-government demonstrations, and of course the pressure coming from the United States, the Iranian regime is feeling particularly vulnerable.
The European Union has been relatively easy on Iran, even since President Trump took office.
During the election campaign, Donald Trump voiced his concern about Iran and its regional activities and vowed to pursue tougher foreign policy. Last year, his administration undertook a comprehensive policy review and worked on strategies to overcome its malign influence.
During this time, Europe gave Iran welcome relief. Many European officials ignored Iran’s belligerence and instead prioritised business deals, investment opportunities and trade. Not many wanted to confront Iran – rather they turned a blind eye much like the Obama administration.
However, the situation is changing and more and more European officials are sharing Trump’s concerns. This is certainly the case for France which barely seemed to hesitate in getting involved in the strikes on Syrian regime targets earlier in the month.
The United Kingdom proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution in February. The proposal was with regards to Iran’s smuggling of weapons and missiles to the Houthi rebels in Yemen and it was backed by France.
Macron has said that he will willing to increase sanctions on Iran, especially because it is a move that may persuade the US President to remain in the deal.
Despite the European leaders being rather lenient on the Iranian regime, scores of members of European Parliament have urged the relevant officials to take action against Iran. Many have also voiced their support for the Iranian opposition that has been working towards peaceful regime change for years. Many high-profile figures in France are supporters of the resistance and are regular participants in the many events organised to raise awareness about the plight of the people of Iran.
The future of the nuclear deal remains uncertain, but by this time next month, Trump will have already reached a decision and the next stage of relations with Iran will have begun.
European leaders who are reluctant to support sanctions on Iran must realise that the EU was founded on human rights and equality for all. Should business dealings with Iran be a priority?