Europe willing to pursue proxy war against Iran through Israel

The Azadi Tower, formerly known as the Shahyad Tower , is a monument located at Azadi Square, in Tehran, Iran. It is one of the landmarks of Tehran, marking the west entrance to the city, and is part of the Azadi Cultural Complex, which also includes a museum underground.
Blondinrikard Fröberg from Göteborg, Sweden, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After Iran’s Saturday strike against Israel, the European Union (EU) will “start the necessary work” to target the Islamic Republic with heavier sanctions, with a focus on the country’s drone technology, according to Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat. The idea is to expand the sanctions in effect to include Iran’s missiles, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that the Republic is supplying Russia with war projectiles in Ukraine. Moreover, the move could also cover the so-called Iranian proxies in the Middle East. The sanctions in place today include travel bans, and trade restrictions.

Iran’s attack on the Jewish State was a retaliation against Israel’s unprecedented strike of the Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria – something even Borell, speaking on behalf of the EU, condemned, by emphasizing that the “principle of the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected in all cases and in all circumstances.” Strangely, no one in the West has considered sanctioning Israel thus far.

The number of children killed in Gaza by October 2023 was already greater than the total number of casualties of children during the entire first year of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, according to the Euro-Med Humans Rights Monitor (and it is now six times greater). There is clearly a double-standard with regards to the employment of sanctions, to put it mildly.

In addition, the scenario of listing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group is under analysis in Europe. This is something Israel supports. Israel’s foreign minister Israel Katz has been urging European diplomats precisely to sanction Iran’s missile program and to label the IRGC as a terror organization.

Ironically, Borrell himself admitted this would be a complex thing to pull because the IRGC has not been connected with any terror attack whatsoever in any of the European bloc’s member states. In his words, the EU regulations pertaining to such measure would require a “decision by a national authority related with a case of terrorist activities.” Interestingly, he added: “I will ask the legal services of the (European) External Action Service to relook at this and see if there is any case in which we could base this proposition, but for the time being, we don’t have it.”

This of course is a further indication of how much the label of “terrorism” is abused and weaponized for geopolitical purposes. In the Middle East itself, in fact, the IRGC plays a key role in counter-terrorism, being, as it is,  the main deterrent to the expansion of the terrorist group ISIS (the so-called Islamic State or Daesh) in the Levant and is thus a guarantor of Christian (as well as other minorities) safety in the region.

Similarly, Tehran has been fighting terrorism on its Pakistani border for more than a decade. European powers, as well as the US, on the other hand, are known to have funded and armed the so-called Syrian rebels and thus empowered ISIS. It is no exaggeration to say the US-led West has been the world’s main supporter of terrorism, directly and indirectly.

Back to the theme of Europe further sanctioning Iran, the aforementioned Borrell claimed that the region today is “at the edge of the abyss… and we have to move away from it”, and that any miscalculation could lead to a Israeli-Iranian war that “no one wants.” One must admit this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? There is a clear pattern at play here. It is not a hard one to be detected – in fact it is hard to miss it:

With Paris’ fiascos involving its troops in Africa, and with American defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, the West has been increasingly betting on indirect warfare and, to paraphrase Borell, has thereby been constantly dancing on the edge of the abyss.

In the Pacific, the US-led West engages in all sorts of provocations, and funds and supports Taiwan against China, while US former officials call for “regime change” in Beijing and “greater friction.” Some worry this could get out of control and unaffordably escalate, as has been the case elsewhere. In Eastern Europe, in fact, after over a year of a proxy attrition war against Russia in Ukraine, the adjusted goal, for key figures in the Western Establishment, has now apparently shifted to turning devastated Ukraine into a new South Korea.

As I’ve written, Washington right now cannot afford and is not willing to support an escalation of Israeli attacks against Iran. Israel is not so easily curbed by American pressure, though. Even the Iranians cannot really “control” their Houthi “proxies”, as I wrote before  – it would be more accurate to speak, in Iran’s case, of concerned parties and key partners within the so-called axis of resistance. The problem with “proxies”, really, is that they have a life of their own, and their own agendas.

With the EU planning to expand sanctions on Iran, the cause of Ukraine is increasingly losing traction, as the Middle East is becoming once again the focal point for global tensions. The question, however, remains: to what extent will the EU and the West support Israel? We live in an age of “tension management” — the West acts as a sponsor to allies and fuels conflicts, but won’t commit to full-blown war. It might feel easier to outsource wars, so to speak, through proxies and allies. This model of warfare and foreign policy however could show itself to be unsustainable.

Republished with permission.

Uriel Araujo 2024