- - Sunday, February 4, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On January 12, President Trump set a deadline for Congress — and the five nations that joined President Obama in signing his nuclear weapons deal with Iran — to make major changes to the deal. He said it was the last chance to either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States would withdraw from it.

Nine days later Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Zarif, in an op-ed in the Financial Times, one of Europe’s most highly-regarded newspapers, presented his European counterparts with arguments for “security cooperation” in a new “post-Western global order” artfully stated in the terms of the European leaders’ most fervently-held globalist beliefs.

It was an elegant attempt at diplomatic seduction, aiming to increase European — and Iranian — strong opposition to any changes in the agreement. Mr. Zarif appealed to Germany, France and Britain for their appeasement of Iran stated in the diplomatic terms those nations’ leaders use most often.

Mr. Zarif posed what he called an opportunity for nations to cooperate in a post-ISIS world in pursuit of regional strength in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. He argued that the historical modes of forming alliances have become obsolete because they assume a commonality of interests.

Instead, he proposes “security networking” that is ” Iran’s innovation to address issues that range from divergence of interests to power and size disparities.”

The Iranian minister proposed that “security networking” would be premised on the principles of the U.N. Charter such as accepting differences among nations, “inclusivity,” the sovereign equality of states and non-intervention in nations’ domestic affairs. He stated that networking should begin with confidence-building measures such as joint military visits, transparency measures in armament, reducing military expenditures, all leading to a non-aggression pact among the region’s nations.

There is no need for an extended rehearsal of Iran’s recent actions to conclude that Mr. Zarif is maintaining Iran’s nearly 40-year old disinformation campaign. A few examples suffice.

One is Iran’s insistence that its military facilities, in which its nuclear weapons and missile development programs are centered, are off limits to U.N. inspectors. And the fact of its partnership with North Korea in both programs. That’s hardly “transparency measures in armament.” Iran’s military spending is growing enormously, fed by funding available after sanctions were suspended.

Mr. Zarif wrote that the world is transitioning to “a post-western global order,” necessitating the security networking he proposes across the Middle East and Western Asia. He certainly couldn’t have meant that “security networking” and “joint military visits” were best exemplified by the treaty Iran signed with Russia and Turkey last year to protect the terrorist regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.

The active operations of Russian and Iranian forces in Syria is based on their commonality of interests in making Syria a joint Iranian-Russian satrapy.

Mr. Zarif argued that the Middle Eastern arms race fosters destructive rivalries and that “[M]ilitarism has only served to fuel disastrous adventurism.” Iran’s support for — and arming of — Houthi rebels in Yemen, with which a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia is at war, is an Iranian proxy war against its Arab neighbors, precisely the “disastrous adventurism” he claimed to condemn.

How are Iran’s actions in Syria and Yemen in furtherance of the U.N. Charter which provides for the sovereignty of states, the resolution of conflicts by peaceful means and equality among nations to which he so reverently refers?

Mr. Zarif’s bid for European appeasement is both direct and clever. He writes, “One would expect other countries — especially our European neighbors — to see it in their own interests to urge allies in our region to adopt ” Iran’s “security networking” policy.

Mr. Zarif’s article is icing on the cake for European leaders eager to thwart Mr. Trump’s demands to change the Iran deal or cancel it. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, has already said that Mr. Trump lacks the power to revoke the Iran deal because it was approved by a U.N. Security Council resolution. There, she spoke for all EU nations including Britain, France and Germany.

Left unsaid by both Mr. Zarif and Mrs. Mogherini is the enormous profits that European companies will earn under their contracts with Iran. Total, France’s major oil company, has a $5 billion contract to sell Iranian oil.

Germany’s Siemens has a contract to upgrade Iran’s railways worth hundreds of millions of Euros. American companies such as Boeing, which plans to sell airliners to Iran, also have a lot to lose if Mr. Trump cancels the deal and gets Congress to re-impose sanctions.

If Mr. Trump withdraws from the deal in May, as he should, the Europeans’ reaction is predictable: they will submit American action to the U.N. Security Council, which includes Iranian allies Russia and China as permanent members, in an attempt to invalidate Mr. Trump’s action if he revokes the deal in May. Congressional Democrats, seeking to preserve Mr. Obama’s most dangerous legacy, will be outraged.

The Security Council — and the Democrats — can be faced down rather easily. Congress and the public have never seen the deal’s secret side agreements which, for example, enable Iran’s self-inspection of its military sites. When May comes — if not sooner — Mr. Trump should reveal the side deals. The facts are what they are and we’re all — even Congress — stuck with them.

Jed Babbin, a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration, is the author of “In the Words of Our Enemies.”


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