By Banafsheh Zand
Last year, in his address before the US Congress, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a stirring defense of what he called “multilateralism,” “universal values,” “gender equality,” and “the liberation of the individual.” However, in that same speech – and in his overall policies – Macron betrayed his belief by defending the 2015 JCPOA (the Iran Nuclear Deal), an agreement that only benefited the totalitarian Khomeinist regime and European big business, while completely ignoring the human rights of the Iranian people. By doing so, Macron is merely repeating what all other French leaders have done for the past four decades: preach the euphemistic slogan, “liberté, egalité, fraternité (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity)” to the camera, while behind closed doors selling out the freedom of other nations for profit.
It was French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who despite his claim to have great admiration for Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1978, provided asylum to Ruhollah Khomeini, giving him an estate in Neauphle-le-Chateau, from where he could agitate against the legal government of Iran. The French allowed Khomeini to have complete and unfettered access to the international media, by which he would dazzle the world with his distortions. All of this was completely against international law, as France was interfering in the internal affairs of another sovereign nation-state. Why did France, then, help Khomeini? The answer is simply, Oil. The French thought they could get a better trade deal from an incompetent government of uneducated mullahs, instead of a patriotic-minded, modernist leader. Thus, with France’s help, Iran was plunged from being what was, at that time, the world’s fastest growing economy, and the second developing nation after Japan, poised to enter the ranks of the first world economies, into a totalitarian, theocratic hell.
Despite the fact that Khomeinists quickly revealed themselves to be an inquisitionist cult out to conquer the world, the French, like almost all the other western countries, continued to place short-term corporate profits above their long-term security interests, throwing human rights out the window; all to keep trade flowing with the Mullahgarchy. In order to protect their trade deals, one French administration after another chose to ignore, and turn a blind eye to, acts of terrorism and assassinations carried out on French soil by Tehran’s regime, against Iranian dissidents and opposition leaders.
Just a few examples of the Iranians murdered by the regime in France include:
Navy Captain Shahriar Shafiq, a naval officer and nephew of the last Shah of Iran, assassinated in Paris in December, 1979. His killer was never discovered by French Police.
General Gholam-Ali Oveissi, former chief of the Iranian army. Killed with his brother, Gholam-Hossein, in Paris, in February, 1984. Their assassins were never arrested.
Cyrus Elahi, an opposition activist with the Flag of Freedom Organization, murdered in Paris in October, 1990. His assassin was never arrested.
Dr. Abdorrahman Boroumand, opposition activist, assassinated in Paris, April, 1991. No assassin ever arrested.
Prime Minister (Dr.) Shapour Bakhtiar, former Iranian prime minister. Knifed to death in August, 1991, by a Khomeiniist intelligence agent who got into his house, despite being supposedly under heavy state-protection.
Dr. Reza Mazlouman (aka Kourosh Aryamanesh), writer and historian, shot dead in Paris, May, 1996.
Besides willful indifference to the safety and security of Iranian-French citizens and refugees within its borders, the French state chose to ignore Tehran’s acts of terrorism committed against France itself. France’s response to Khomeinist terrorism and hostage taking has been to give in to and capitulate to Tehran’s demands.
In 1983, 58 French soldiers were killed in Beirut, Lebanon, by Hezbollah militants operating under the control of Tehran’s IRGC. No retaliation strike was conducted.
In 1986, 11 French citizens were killed by an Islamist group operating out of the regime’s embassy in Paris. France accused a regime “diplomat” of being responsible and ended diplomatic relations with Tehran. The regime then took several French citizens hostage by Hezbollah in Lebanon. France responded by giving the “diplomat” safe transit back to Iran, the hostages were released, and shortly thereafter diplomatic relations resumed.
In 2005, 34-year-old Stephane Lherbier, a French owner and operator of a charter boat in Dubai, took 52-year-old German tourist, Donald Klein who hired Lherbier for a fishing day trip, out on the Persian Gulf. They motored by the tiny island of Abu Musa, about 50 miles from both Iran and Dubai. There, they were stopped by a gray, unflagged military boat equipped with a .20-caliber machine gun. Placed under arrest, they were flown to the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas and held at a military base. For that, he was locked up for 15 months in Iran, separated from his wife, Veronique, and their 3-year-old daughter, Lola. The Khomeinist regime authorities repeatedly told him he was about to be released, only to dash his hopes in what he considered a form of psychological torture.
In July 2009, Clotilde Reiss, a 24-year-old French student, was arrested by the Khomeinist regime authorities, in Isfahan during the 2009 Green Movement protests. She was charged with espionage simply for having taken photographs of protesters and having emailed them to friends back home. The French government did not publicize her arrest for several days, during which they unsuccessfully negotiated her release. Finally when Tehran’s judiciary announced the fact that she would be put on trial, French authorities, such as then Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and President Nicolas Sarkozy reacted by calling the charges, absurd and pure fantasy.
Reiss was released May of the following year. Evidence suggests she may have been let go as part of an exchange, in which Ali Vakili Rad, Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar’s assassin, and Majid Kakavand, a businessman wanted in the US for illegally shipping high-tech goods to Tehran, were released and returned to Iran.
In 1992, France had, along with Germany and the UK begun what they referred to as a “critical dialogue” with Tehran. In practice, this meant a few public statements condemning Tehran’s human rights abuses while leaving the bilateral trade mechanisms intact and prospering. Then, “critical dialogue” became “constructive dialogue” after the feigned reformist Mohammad Khatami became president in 1997.
In the 2000’s the trade game continued, with EU troika, France-Britain-Germany, went back and forth to Tehran delaying the Khomeinist regime’s demise, using the mantra of “negotiations.” Interestingly in 2006, The Telegraph reported that during a meeting with the Islamic regime’s Assembly of Clerics Rowhani, showed off by admitting that during the 2004 nuclear deal Iran with the three nations, from which Iran withdrew nearly a year later, allowed Tehran to conclude critical advances of its nuclear program.
Finally, after Barack Obama became US president, the European governments found an American leader who shared their worldviews, and the result was the JCPOA.
What did the JCPOA mean for France? Hundreds of billions of euros in export contracts. Among the biggest of those were:
- 118 Airbus planes to be sold to Iran for $25 billion
- An almost $1 billion-dollar plan to establish a Renault auto factory in Tehran
- A joint venture deal with the (now-bankrupt) Iranian auto manufacturer SAIPA to produce Citroen vehicles.
- Another joint venture deal to manufacture Peugeot cars.
- Total, the French oil giant, receiving a share of Iran’s South Pars oil and gas field.
- In 2014, French bank BNP Paribas was fined close to $8.97 billion in illegal transactions violating U.S. sanctions on Iran (and Sudan).
Between 2015 and 2017, France’s exports to Iran tripled, from $614 million to $1.64 billion. They would have continued to dramatically increase, but then most of these dreams of fast and easy money came to an end because Donald Trump, by restoring US sanctions on the regime, gave companies the choice of either trading with the US or Tehran.
Most French companies cancelled their contracts immediately, though some chose to stay, most notably Danone, the largest bottled water company in the world, which owns the Damavand brand in Iran. The French government has done whatever it could to save its investment and export deals, but so far it has failed. Macron therefore considers it essential to do whatever he can during the current G7 summit he is hosting in Biarritz, to restore some passable method by which France can trade with the regime while avoiding penalties from the US.
Since his election in 2017, Emmanuel Macron has positioned himself as a defender of “global order,” and has tried to show himself as morally superior to Donald Trump. The cold truth, however, is that France is a nation-state pursuing only what it deems to be its national interests (which are rather the interests of the French corporatist elite), pure and simple. Macron is bending over backwards to save the JCPOA through some new arrangement or other; in keeping Tehran’s regime afloat and European companies profiting, he is using the tropes of “peace” and “liberalism.” And in doing so, Macron is simply showing himself to be the consummate Machiavellian.
This weekend, as the G7 Summit got underway, Emmanuel Macron and his EU cronies managed to sneak, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Khomeinist regime’s globe-trotting mouthpiece into Biarritz, where the various heads of states had gathered. Interestingly, earlier in August, when Tehran itself let it slip that Macron had extended Hassan Rouhani, an invitation to Biarritz, Paris immediately denied it.
Events organized by the French Embassy in Tehran, over the last few days shows how desperately the French government is trying to portray Iran’s internal situation as normal. During the last week, the cultural section of the French Embassy has organized concerts with French and Iranian musicians, conducted by French conductor Nicolas Krauze, in Tehran’s Vahdat hall. All this as the average Iranian grapples with inflation and privation brought on by none other than the Khomeinist regime itself, with the aid and abetting of their EU kleptocrat allies.