Geopolitics

New Sanctions And Whispers Of War In Europe-Iran Standoff

Europe is threatening stiffer sanctions on Iran following a recent attack by students on the British Embassy in Tehran. Diplomacy remains the strategy of choice for the Europeans, but at least one German lawmaker isn’t ruling out military intervention.

Student protestors rally outside the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday, November 29
Student protestors rally outside the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday, November 29
Christoph B. Schiltz

BERLIN -- The conflict between Europe and Iran has escalated. E.U. foreign ministers have now agreed to work on sanctions that could include stopping oil imports and cutting Iran's financial system off from the West. "We decided that this time sanctions would be much harsher," said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé.

The catalysts for the new measures under discussion were the attacks on the British Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students, and the expulsion of the British ambassador. In a statement, the minister said: "The Council views these actions against Great Britain as actions against the entire European Union."

The new sanctions will be finalized in January and will add another dimension to the conflict between the Europeans and Iranians over Tehran's alleged plans to produce atomic weapons. Germany, France and the United Kingdom expressed particularly strong support for harsher sanctions.

Cutting off oil imports from Iran has been repeatedly discussed in the past, but members could never agree on the matter. Greece and Italy have been vehemently opposed to the idea since both countries import significant amounts of their oil supply from Iran.

But now France's top diplomat, Juppé, is saying that the European Union will work together with various partners to increase deliveries from other countries to make up for the deliveries from Iran. "It's doable," he stressed.

Upping the ante

According to Walter Posch, an Iran expert at the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), such sanctions "will be interpreted by the Iranian government as a sign that the European Union is looking for regime change." And, Posch said, that would have consequences. For one thing, Tehran's willingness to cooperate in negotiations about its nuclear program could fade. There is also the danger that in the future the Iranian government could behave even more aggressively towards the West.

On the other hand, Posch said, the new sanctions are a lot more than pinpricks and will make the country's economic development – and with it, the survival of the present regime – that much more difficult. Iran presently sells nearly a fifth of its oil to Europe. That oil covers about 6% of the European Union's needs.

Earlier sanctions have already hurt Iran, said Posch: "They have contributed significantly to the country's underdevelopment." Up until now, 143 Iranian companies and organizations had been blacklisted. Following the recent ministerial meeting that number went up to 433.

The hardest hit companies are those that produce technology. Exempted from the sanctions are manufacturers of agricultural and pharmaceutical products. The ministers also raised the number of Iranian individuals who may not travel to the European Union from 37 to 113, although travel bans are symbolic more than anything else.

Not ruling out the military option

Israel, meanwhile, stated that the option to attack the Iranian nuclear program militarily remained open. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel retains the option as a "last resort."

Barak added that he did not believe international sanctions against Iran would work. He also said Israel does not intend to launch a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities "at this point." "We don't need unnecessary wars. But we definitely might be put to the test," he said.

In Germany, Philipp Mißfelder, Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union spokesman for foreign policy issues in the German parliament, also said that military options with regard to Iran could not be excluded. First, however, sanctions should be tightened. "But I say very clearly that even those who want to put the focus on diplomatic efforts cannot entirely rule out a military option," Mißfelder said.

The politician went on to say that Iran was the biggest threat in the Middle East "because they are trying to produce an atomic bomb and would certainly not hold back from using it."

So far, Iran seems unimpressed by all the debates and the announcement of new sanctions. On Thursday, the government released 11 people who had been arrested for storming and plundering the British Embassy.

Brussels took this move to mean that the plunderers were being protected by influential circles in the regime. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has so far remained silent about the incident that led London to expel all Iranian diplomats in the United Kingdom and to close its embassy in Tehran. Berlin, Paris and The Hague have all recalled their ambassadors from Tehran.

German security operatives suspect Iran of planning strikes on U.S. military airports in Germany in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran. According to Posch, "Iran will attack a number of targets should it be attacked." These would include sites not only in Germany but in Turkey and the Gulf region as well. "It would depend on what military bases the Americans were launching their attacks from," he said.

Read the original story in German

Photo - YouTube

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

4.9%

China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.

📈💥  IN OTHER NEWS

​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.


Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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