Photo: Reuters

6 European nations join INSTEX mechanism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump last night, during which the two leaders held an elaborate discussion on Iran and its involvement in growing regional unrest and terror-related threats, among other topics.

The phone conversation between the Israeli and American leaders followed a multilateral declaration by Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden whom announced their collective decision to join the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges with Tehran – commonly known as the INSTEX mechanism –  which is designed to enable the Islamic Republic to bypass the crippling international sanctions that were imposed on it by the United States.

The multilateral decision to join the mechanism was warmly welcomed by the founders of INSTEX, France, Britain and Germany, who responded in a joint statement saying: “As founding shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), France, Germany and the United Kingdom warmly welcome the decision taken by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, to join INSTEX as shareholders.” The Statement added that the addition of the six new members “further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran.” The three European powers also insisted that the addition represents “a clear expression of (Europe’s) continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” which is the technical term for the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. That is why, they insisted, Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the nuclear accord “without delay.”

In response to the growing European support of INSTEX, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a filmed statement highlighting Jerusalem’s frustration with the so-called enlightened European continent that – in contrast with its own liberal values – actively works to back a country that sows darkness within its own territory and around the world. He said, “In Tehran, in Baghdad, in Beirut, people are taking to the streets. They are being slaughtered by the hundreds, yet they continue to protest. The tyrants of Tehran shoot them to no avail. They tamper with the internet to no avail as well. The fearless and frustrated people of Iran simply refuse to be silenced. In Baghdad, Iran’s cronies have killed hundreds of Iraqis. But here too, the people of Iraq refuse to be silenced. They continue to protest. In Beirut, Hezbollah thugs attack peaceful demonstrators, but the Lebanese people keep showing up as well. What is driving these people to risk their lives and stand up to their oppressors? Well, the answer is simple. They are fed up. They’re fed up with corruption. They’re fed up with failing economies. They’re fed off with the siphoning off of their treasure and their lives to Iran’s wars of aggression in the region.”

Netanyahu further excoriated the European governments, equating their support of INSTEX to the endorsement of the “murderous regime” in Tehran. He emphasized the hypocrisy – which according to Netanyahu – enables “a fanatic terrorist state to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, thereby bringing disaster to themselves and upon everyone else.“ He further argued that “while the people of the Middle East bravely stand up to Iran and its henchmen, here’s the absurd thing: While all of this is happening, countries in Europe are working to bypass US sanctions against Iran. While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime. While Iran bombs Saudi Arabia’s oil installations, while Iran rushes to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, European countries rush to appease Iran with even more concessions. These European countries should be ashamed of themselves. Have they learned nothing from history? Well, apparently not.”

Netanyahu concluded his statement by insisting that Now is the time to change course. Now is the time to ratchet up the pressures on Iran, not to lessen them. Now is the time to join the United States and increase sanctions against Iran. To those who favor appeasement of Iran, I say this: History and your own people will judge you harshly. Change course now”.

Meanwhile in Iran, more than one-hundred and sixty civilians were reportedly killed by the Islamic Revolutionary guards over the course of the past several weeks of domestic unrest. The alarming casualty figures does not seem to impact the Iranian Authorities, who continue to provide tail-wind to the deadly methods used against their own civilians. According to Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, “the fact that in this incident some people were injured and had problems, houses were burnt and there was damage … security forces will continue to work on this issue as it is their duty.”

The Iranian parliament speaker insisted that while the Islamic Republic does not oppose peaceful demonstrations – violent riots will be met with reciprocal methods, saying “The country and its constitutional laws have no problems with protests, the problem is when the behavior becomes violent.”

Speaker Larijani also seized the opportunity to signal to the United States that the regime will not waver against methods of economic pressure that had consequently brought about the deadly domestic unrest. The Iranian official said “The policy of maximum pressure method is wrong and it needs to change. We have not closed the doors (on dialogue) but the important thing is that Americans should know that this method (of sanctions) also existed in the past and it didn’t work. “