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Why Europe Must Stand Up To Trump On Iran

The U.S. president wants to impose his will and whims on all partners. The EU, for the sake of its own security, needs to resist.

Trump on TV in Tehran on May 8
Trump on TV in Tehran on May 8
Daniel Brössler

-OpEd-

MUNICH — The regime in Tehran is committed to destroying Israel. It promotes terrorism and creates discord in the region, while at home, the mullahs curtail basic freedoms to protect their positions of power. Iran in its present form is not, to put it mildly, a dream partner for democracies.

And yet, the European Union — together with Russia and China — is right to work against the destruction of the 2015 nuclear agreement, even and especially now that the United States is reinstating a first wave of sanctions against the country.

It's not nice to have to form an alliance with the autocrats in Moscow and Beijing to protect a deal with the promoters of terrorism in Tehran. But it's the inevitable consequence of the situation created by U.S. President Donald Trump. It's, in a way, the first global alliance against Trumpism. Whether and to what extent it is successful depends a lot on Europe and the rest of the world.

Preserving the deal is a question of security.

That applies first of all to what the Iran deal was about. The agreement is not the perfect way to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. For the time being, however, it's the only one that works. The provisions that the diplomats had spent years negotiating created shackles for Iran that it cannot just throw off, as long as it remains in the agreement. Sure, this doesn't prevent Tehran from continuing to dream of the bomb. But it drastically slows down the possibilities that this dream turns into a reality, which, from the point of view of most of the world, would be a nightmare.

Sanctions have led Iran to submit to this negotiated solution. But sanctions alone have not brought an end to the nuclear program. They won't succeed without diplomacy this time either. Preserving the deal is, therefore, a question of security for Europeans: Rockets could not carry the Iranian bomb to America, but they could hit Europe.

Trump's Twitter warning on Aug. 7 — Source: Official Twitter account

But it's not just Tehran that Europe needs to worry about. Trump is also a threat. This is, ultimately, a showdown — one that will decide whether the U.S. president can brutally impose his will on all partners, and whether everybody surrenders to his lies and whims.

Trump's biggest problem with the Iran deal is that it came from his predecessor, Barack Obama. In Trump's world, deals can only be good if he made them himself. When that's the case, even a North Korean dictator becomes a prince of peace. But if the inflated ego of an American president becomes the sole yardstick, then all reliability and, ultimately, all security is shattered. Against that, we must stand up with all our power.

The EU has got to try.

The question is whether that power is sufficient. The economic power Trump has to enforce his will is almost limitless. The EU is trying to prevent European companies from withdrawing from the Iranian business for fear of being punished by the United States. The chances that this will work are rather slim — but the EU has got to try. For itself, and for the world.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Soldier wearing the paramilitary Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Source: Sky over Ukraine via Facebook
Anna Akage

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

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