While the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remains in jeopardy, it appears that Europe and the U.S. want to broaden the discussion with the Iranian regime regarding its actions throughout the region. For those within the region, the willingness of the West to actively engage the regime regarding its behavior in the Middle East is a step forward. The regime has been linked to military operations or terrorist and militia groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Other countries in the region can point to the subtle influence of Iran in their elections.
Then there are the attacks on Israel, using bases in Syria to send missiles right into their territory. Members of the regime are not popular and the Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, is often the face of the regime in other countries and bears the brunt of their scorn.
A meeting occurred on May 15, and demonstrations throughout the event targeted the regime and called for its overthrow. The demonstrators were tied to the Iranian resistance, which is united through a coalition called the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Photos show demonstrators standing outside of the EU headquarters, protesting the visit of Zarif, who has been tied to various human rights abuses throughout his time in the regime.
When U.S. President Trump decided to not renew the sanctions waiver, essentially pulling the U.S. out of the JCPOA, he listed multiple problems with the agreement. One of the issues was the Iranian ballistic missile program, which was not adequately addressed by the agreement, and the increasing influence of the regime throughout the region with a destabilizing impact.
“The situation has changed in terms of the U.S. decision. But the issues, which have concerned the United States and led them to pull out are extremely important and it appears clear that these must be addressed by the Iranians as well. Iran cannot rely solely on its adherence to the JCPOA and not take action in other areas. The UK will continue its obligations under the JCPOA and find ways to involve Iran positively in the region,” said Alistair Burt, the UK’s Middle East Minister.
The UK is also urging the U.S. to stay active in the region, particularly the Syrian crisis, which continues to divide the region even as it divides the Syrian people. The U.S. supports a political transition to remove Assad, while Iran and Russia support Assad remaining as head of the Syrian government.
“In terms of that ultimate solution to the political issue, everyone should be working toward something where the chance of conflict in the future is completely minimized or eliminated,” said Burt about Syria.