The Foolishness Of Feeding A ‘Crocodile’ Regime: Iran’s Predatory Leaders Gain Power From Appeasement – OpEd


On July 20, the Belgium Parliament approved an agreement that opens the way to exchange convicted prisoners between Belgium and Iran. .In doing so, the Belgian government and parliamentarians made clear to the people of Iran that they did not hear their voices. It is also clear that these officials apparently believe in the foolish idea that “feeding the crocodile” will tame it and prevent it from tearing more human flesh.

Since the birth of the Islamic Republic, it is clear that hostage-taking and permanent blackmail of life are key elements of an assumed strategy of the mullahs’ regime.

It did not take long after the signing of this Belgian agreement, which, according to the Brussels Bar, is contrary to the Belgian Constitution, for the Iranian state to prove again that appeasing it only prompts more evil-doing. 

First of all, it was John Bolton, former US ambassador  to the UN and former White House national security adviser, who found himself targeted by an assassination plot.

A few days later, writer Sir Salman Rushdie, the subject of a 1989 fatwa by Iran’s supreme leader, was attacked and seriously injured in New York by a knife-wielding fanatic. The fatwa carries a bounty of $3.3 million. 

No one should doubt Iran’s intentions to behave in a humane manner in the world. The possible consequences of approving this disturbing Belgian bill are becoming clearer: Feeding the crocodile does not tame it but makes it even more predatory.

All-important commerce? Or political cowardice?

In 2018, Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi and his accomplices planned to blow up an international  gathering of tens of thousands of people who seek a free Iran. The event, held near Paris, was attended by  political figures from around the world.

Assadi was arrested for committing a crime. And even if the Belgian independent judiciary did its job by convicting and severely condemning Assadi, the terrorist diplomat will surely be the object of an exchange for innocent Western hostages held in Iranian jails under false pretexts. Once again, the West decides to replay the policy of appeasement…

This appeasement stands in contrast to 1988, when 30,000 political prisoners in Iran were massacred without mercy by Iranian authorities while Western countries closed their eyes and plugged their ears. There is no worse blind man than the one who does not want to see, the saying goes. It was because the negotiations on oil and trade relations with Europe were going well. Economic interests were already prevailing over human rights and human lives, and the policy of appeasement was already taking place.

A Western newspaper once fancifully compared Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force general responsible for multiple massacres in the Middle East and especially in Syria, to Cuban militant Che Guevara. Yet it was Soleimani who allowed Russia to take a dominant position in this deadly conflict in more ways than one. But here again, the West ended up using appeasement. And we could multiply the examples, in Yemen or Iraq for example, where militias affiliated with Iran have committed crimes and have received, as a punishment, a few billion dollars of cryptocurrency and a little cash sent by plane.

Recently, Amnesty International reported on a growing wave of public executions in Iran.  Everywhere, “morality” patrols attack women with and without their hijabs. Fierce repression within Iran continues to grow harsher and more violent, while on the western side, endless negotiations to reach an imaginary nuclear agreement continue. 

Mohammad Marandi, a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, reacted to the attack on Rushdie by writing on Twitter: “I won’t be shedding tears for a writer who spouts endless hatred & contempt for Muslims & Islam. A pawn of empire who poses as a Postcolonial novelist. But, isn’t it odd that as we near a potential nuclear deal, the US makes claims about a hit on Bolton… and then this happens?”

Ebrahim Raïsi’s oppressing appointment

The rebel youth uprising in 2019, which Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was only able to contain by shooting directly into the hearts of the crowd, led him to the conclusion that the only way to survive was to unite against the flood of uprisings. Therefore, the supreme leader considered that the only solution was the “appointment” of Ebrahim Raisi, loyal among the faithful, to the post of president, so that the latter could suppress the uprisings by carrying out his orders while retaining the hand in the objective of obtaining nuclear weapons.

In fact, if the supreme leader had sincerely wanted to reach a nuclear agreement with Western countries, it would have been signed under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, assisted by his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. These pseudo negotiations have only one goal; they serve to buy time in the race for nuclear weapons.

The presidential appointment of a man actively involved in the massacre of political prisoners in 1988 is a clear indication of the radicalization of the Islamic Republic. The goal has been the same since its birth in 1979: Advance the supreme leader’s will by creating terror, taking hostages, multiplying attacks, and trying to execute John Bolton and assassinate Sir Rushdie.

To date, the only resistance to gangsterism displayed by the Iranian state is the work of the peoples of Iran. More than 5,000 resistance units have been formed in Iran since 2016. And these units have only one objective—to create a secular government advocating, among other things, direct democracy, gender equality, freedom of worship, and the possibility of self-determination of the different ethnic groups composing the country. 

The Iranian people have made their decision. They are confronting the regime. But what of the West? What are these great defenders of fundamental freedoms and human causes do? What quest are they pursuing today? Do they prefer to remain an accomplice of a regime already condemned by the verdict of history? Is the courage of the West just a façade?

Saeed Abed: Member of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee; Human Rights Activist, Expert on Iran, and the Middle East

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