A Number of Scenarios About Iran’s Terrorist Allegations in Europe

By Nozhan Etezadosaltaneh

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that we know that our life of freedom is stronger than terror. This statement shows that security and anti-terrorism concerns are the first priorities of European governments. Publication of news on the probability of Iran’s conspiracy in the terrorist acts in Europe in recent weeks has made the European governments worried as they wish to maintain commercial and economic relationship with Iran and take advantage of holding on to their nuclear agreement with this country, especially when Iran has faced unilateral American sanctions.

Recently, four people identified in Germany and Belgium, who are believed to be Iranian diplomats were charged with conspiracy in planning a bombing at the MKO summit (a leftist Islamist organization that has believed in an armed fight against the Islamic Republic for many years and has recently approached the American neo-conservatism,) were arrested in Paris. On the other hand, the Danish government published news a few days ago about the efforts of the Iranian government to assassinate an Iranian Arab activist in Denmark, who opposed the Iranian government.

These issues are important as they remind us of the assassination of Iran government opponents in European countries in the 90’s. Since then, such assassinations have significantly decreased. Some examples of such assassinations occurred in 90’s against the nationalist and secular opposition members or Kurdish opposition members were the assassination of Iran’s latest Prime Minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, in the Pahlavi regime or the nationalist people in Paris in August 1991; assassination of Abdul Rahman Boroumand, the nationalist political activist, in Paris in April 1991, who was one of Bakhtiar allies; assassination of Fereydoon Farrokhzad in Bonn-Germany in August 1992, the famous TV program maker in Iran, who was a showman who opposed the Iranian government; and the Mykonos restaurant Assassination in September 1992, in which a number of Kurdish opposition leaders were murdered.

These assassinations have had great effects on the relationships between Iran and Europe for many years. However, the fact is that most of the accused, namely Kazem Darabi, who was one of the suspects in the assassination of Mykonos, were set free from the prison and returned to Iran. Moreover, Anis Al-Naqqash, one of the agents in Bakhtiar assassination team, was sentenced for life by the French court, but was pardoned after six months and returned to Iran. Then, in a TV show in Iran state television, he officially admitted being dispatched for the Bakhtiar assassination and was proud of this.

Iran’s government has always refused to admit to conspiracy in the assassinations. However, some Islamic laws have allowed Muslims to murder the infidel or apostate people. According to some verses in the Quran, the Islamic government or Muslims can murder hostile infidels, i.e., the infidels who take up weapons and wage war with Muslims. However, none of the nationalist and secular opposition member (individuals like Bakhtiar) had weapons and didn’t believe in an armed fight, but publicly conducted political struggle against Iran government.

Now, the question arises as to why Iran, which is suffering the strict sanctions imposed by America and needs European countries to maintain The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and use its advantages, has committed a terrorist act in Europe?

A number of scenarios can be discussed about this ambiguity and suspicious topic:

The Iranian government believes that Mossad and Western intelligence institutions and Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia and UAE, wish to distract the international public opinion from the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Istanbul. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that Arab countries and Israel have concluded that more focus on the Khashoggi file is a detriment to the coalition against the Islamic Republic of Iran, led by Trump. So, from Iran government’s perspective, they have decided to prevent more disturbance of Saudi Arabia’s image in the international society and are portraying Iran as an evil country.

In the second probable scenario, this issue arises that the non-selective revolutionary institutions in Iran have conducted such acts in Europe in order to weaken Rouhani’s government within Iran as after America leaves the nuclear agreement with Iran, Rouhani’s government hope to maintain the nuclear agreement is to improve the relationship with Europe, so that it would be able to combat American sanctions. However, the revolutionary institutions in Iran, which are mainly military, are not interested in improving relationships with Europeans. In this regard, the recent statements of top officials of the Iranian government may be interpreted as a wish for a closer to the East (Russia and China). They have always felt pessimistic towards the West and believe that the Europeans have always coordinated with America ultimately.

The third probable scenario is that by conducting such acts in general in European countries, the Iranian government wants to warn Europe that if they do not meet their commitments in the nuclear agreement with Iran and do not provide the necessary measures for Iran to take advantage of this agreement on political and economic terms, they will face insecurity within their countries and that Iran will destabilize the European countries if necessary.

Regardless of the fact that the European countries will leave Iran market fearing America’s sanction penalties, the history of recent decades shows that the Europeans strongly wish to maintain their commercial and economic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and prevent any issue from breaking this relationship. Contrary to the current state of America, the Europeans believe that they should have interactions with Rouhani and the reformist wing, known as the moderates. They are against changes in the regimen of Trump advisors’ circle and wish to maintain political and economic stability in Iran due to security reasons, namely concerns about the outbreak of war and the wave of Iranian refugees fleeing to European countries. Therefore, it seems unlikely that the recent events in Denmark and other European countries will make a serious change in the EU and European countries approach towards the Islamic Republic of Iran.


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Nozhan is an author and political analyst. He has written a book entitled, “Islamic Parties and the laicist perspective of Turkey,” as well as several articles about the Middle East and Iran in Iranian newspapers, including Shargh, Etemaad, Roozegar, and Bahar.

Read their work along with thousands of others on the International Policy Digest, delivering user-generated news and analysis since 2011.