A foiled assassination plot in Denmark may just have cost Iran a partner against Trump
Police vehicles block the street leading to the Oeresund Bridge near Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 28, 2018 . (Photo by Nils Meilvang/EPA-EFE/REX) October 31 at 8:33 AM
BERLIN â" Denmark is leading a push for new E.U. sanctions against Iran, after its intelligence agencies blamed Tehran for a foiled plot to assassinate an Iranian dissident on Danish soil. The plot was already uncovered in September and triggered a massive police operation, in which Denmark shut down streets and bridges across the country.
Age ncies only revealed this week that the operation had likely prevented what they say was a plan to murder a member of the Arab separatist movement ASMLA that advocates for carving out an independent Arab state from Iran. A suspect of Iranian origin was arrested two weeks ago.
The arrest could play into the hands of President Trump, who unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, but has so far struggled to convince European allies to follow suit. The killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 further complicated Trumpâs plans to isolate Tehran, as the Saudis are a key ally in those efforts. Despite the setbacks, U.S. sanctions on Iran are expected to have fully kicked in by next Monday.
In a darkly ironic twist, Iran has condemned the Saudi killing of dissident Khashoggi even as it has a long track record of pursuing operations against opponents living abroad itself. President Hassan Rouhani cal led the killing a âheinous murderâ and suggested that the United States was complicit.
Iran is portraying the Danish incident as an effort to harm European-Iranian relations at a time when they are under mounting pressure from the United States.
Europe has continued to back the original nuclear deal and sought to uphold it without U.S. support, with Denmark so far being a key force behind that commitment. At the end of last year, the Danish Export Credit Agency had approved eight Iranian banks for credit lines or guarantees and vowed to resist U.S. pressure to dismantle those ties. âIf snapback [sanctions] make it illegal to transfer money out of Iran, we would cover their losses. We offer banks this risk,â said the agencyâs director, JÃ¸rn Fredsgaard SÃ¸rensen.
This weekâs revelations appear to have created a far different momentum. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has called the incident âtotally unacceptableâ and ordered his Foreign Ministry to summon the Iranian ambassador. âFurther actions against Iran will be discussed in the E.U.,â Rasmussen wrote on Twitter. It is unclear if any of those sanctions would have an impact on the future of the Iran nuclear deal and E.U. officials refrained from lashing out at Iran in public this week.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during parliament's open session on confidence vote for four new ministers, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
But tensions have been on the rise for a while, especially after the Iranian regime lashed out at Denmark, among other European countries, for providing safe harbor to Iranian opposition members. Tehran stepped up its criticism after more than two dozen Revolutionary Guard members were killed in an attack during a military parade last month cl aimed by ASMLA.
In Europe, governments have grown increasingly concerned that the accusations are to justify a series of Iranian state-led terror plots, with the aim of silencing opposition groups. European authorities already prevented a bomb attack on Iranian dissidents in Paris earlier this year and have spotted a broader uptick in Iranian surveillance operations targeting opposition figures in Europe and the United States.
The pattern has reminded some European intelligence figures of the early days of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader, when dozens of dissidents were murdered across Europe in the 1980s.
But curiously, Europeâs response has so far still been far more muted than in response to other foreign terrorism plots. After the foiled Paris attack plot, French authorities seized Iranian assets and publicly blamed the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, while the regime in Tehran rejected any responsibility as âcategorically false.â
While some European intelligence members suspect that Europeâs lack of response to prior attacks may have encouraged larger-scale operations, others caution that various factions within the Iranian regime are fighting for dominance. To them, it is unclear why Iran would have pursued an attack that almost inevitably would have disrupted a deal that has opened up Iran to foreign investment and trade in recent years. The struggle between hard-liners and more moderate reformers, they argue, is increasingly fought out on the streets of Europe.
Thatâs certainly not how the Trump administration is interpreting the recent plots, however. âFor nearly 40 years, Europe has been the target of #Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks,â Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Tuesday. âWe call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iranâs threats to peace and security,â he added.
Foiled Paris bomb plot raises fears that Iran is plann ing attacks in EuropeSource: Google News Denmark | Netizen 24 Denmark