Europe must avoid being US pawn on Iran issue

By Shi Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/4 21:53:40

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (third from left) and French President Emmanuel Macron (second from right) talk on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France on August 25. Photo: IC

The US on Tuesday imposed sanctions on three Iranian space agencies, accusing Iran of using "its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs." As Washington tightened its sanctions on Tehran, France has reportedly proposed a $15 billion bailout package to Iran in exchange for a return to the nuclear deal and security in the Gulf. The move, at this point in time, is a gesture of goodwill which could make a real difference.

Will this plan, with other European nations' support, succeed? The answer remains unclear, but one thing is certain: It is the US who will make the final call. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said talks on the arrangement were ongoing, but US approval would be critical. "All this (pre)supposes that President Trump issues waivers." 

The struggle between Paris and Washington is a game which will determine the future of US-Europe relations. The US is attempting to dominate Europe, but the latter is showing increasing reluctance to be a US pawn. 

The current dilemma reveals a painful reality: Regardless of efforts to avoid being dictated, Europe still cannot but act in accordance with the will of the US.

Since the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, other signatory nations, including China, have made great efforts to dampen confrontations. As Washington's allies, European nations have played an especially significant role. 

In particular, French President Emmanuel Macron has tried to bring Washington and Tehran back to the negotiating table. Almost all his diplomatic efforts this summer were on the Iran issue. For example, Macron invited Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for a surprise appearance at the G7 summit. And, now, he is offering huge credit lines. Nonetheless, all his efforts appear to be in vain; they hinge on the US' attitude.

The sad truth can be seen from not only the Iran issue, but also other major issues. 

For instance, the US has been piling pressure on Europe to side with it and boycott Chinese telecom giant Huawei, with many European countries hesitating to adopt Chinese technology. 

On Monday, Poland signed an agreement with the US on 5G network security and said it would carefully evaluate foreign 5G equipment, an obvious swipe at Huawei.

Certain European nations consider China a global rival. They need to get a clearer understanding of the situation. The true threat to them does not come from Beijing, but from Washington. The US no longer considers Europe an ally, but a subordinate that can be bossed around. 

The Iran issue is a crucial global topic, not only due to Iran's vital geopolitical position, but also because it helps the world to clearly view US-Europe relations and the West's future. 

If Europe keeps allowing itself to be a US pawn, it may despise itself someday. Only if the continent becomes its own master can it earn recognition from the rest of the world and be supported by the international community.

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