Feb 20, 2019
- At Warsaw, European Ministers Embraced the Need to Counter Unacceptable Iranian Behaviors – Dennis Ross
I moderated a panel last week at the Peace and Security conference in Warsaw. The event was marked by a variety of convergences that should make Iran take notice. European ministers reemphasized that they would not walk away from the nuclear deal, yet they also embraced the need to counter unacceptable Iranian behaviors, including ballistic missile tests and threatening military actions in the Middle East.
The Europeans were alarmed by the similar stories they heard from Arab ministers and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in describing Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region, whether by smuggling arms into Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; using Shia militias to coerce governments; providing missiles to Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Houthis; encouraging terrorism and subversion; deploying missiles on bases in Syria and western Iraq; or developing factories to build precision guidance capabilities for thousands of rockets in Lebanon and Syria.
In essence, those on the frontlines told their European friends that Iran will not stop fomenting trouble abroad unless its costs for doing so become far more acute. Unless Iran’s decision-makers begin to see the costs – and not just the benefits – of foreign interference by the Qods Force and other organs, there is little prospect of the regime altering its behavior. The writer is a former U.S. envoy to the Middle East and counselor at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)