Home iran Beware Of Who Speaks About A ‘Grand Bargain’ In Mideast

Beware Of Who Speaks About A ‘Grand Bargain’ In Mideast


In assessing the statements of analysts and commentators about Iran’s foreign policy and human rights record, it is essential to be aware of their relationship with the government in Tehran.

In his latest article, “Iran-Israel tensions: Only a grand bargain in the Middle East can avert regional war,” published on April 18, 2024, Seyed Hossein Mousavian once again casts the United States, Israel and NATO as the principal antagonists in the Middle East’s ongoing turmoil, conveniently omitting the destructive roles played by Iran’s own regime.

Mousavian’s narrative fails to acknowledge how Iran’s Islamic regime has fueled regional instability by supporting and arming terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis. These groups have been pivotal in executing Iran’s agenda, spreading violence and discord across the region.

Mousavian’s call for the West to engage in appeasement and offer incentives to Iran is a repetitive strategy that surfaces whenever the Islamic Republic faces international pressure or isolation. His articles typically push for a conciliatory approach towards Iran, advocating for unwarranted concessions without addressing the fundamental issues of Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and its blatant disregard for international norms. This biased viewpoint not only misrepresents the true dynamics of Middle Eastern conflicts but also undermines the pursuit of genuine peace and stability in the region.

No wonder that Iranian government-controlled media in Tehran extensively covered Mousavian’s article as a major development, showing the way forward for “peace in the region.”

Princeton University academic Hossein Mousavian

In discussing Iran-Europe relations, Mousavian paints a rosy picture of the diplomatic ties between Iran and Germany during the tenure of Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Iran’s President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Mousavian highlights the political, cultural, and economic collaboration fostered between the two nations, emphasizing Germany’s opposition to US sanctions and their support for Iran through banking and insurance credits, which aided Iran’s post-war reconstruction after Iraq’s invasion. However, Mousavian’s account conspicuously omits a critical aspect of the Iran-Germany relationship during this period: the assassination of Iranian dissidents on European soil, most notably the Mykonos restaurant attack.

The Mykonos restaurant in Berlin was the site of a brutal attack in 1992, where four Iranian-Kurdish dissidents were murdered. This attack was not an isolated incident but part of a broader strategy by the Iranian regime to silence opposition, even beyond its borders. The assailants were linked to the Iranian government, leading to a notorious trial that profoundly impacted Iran’s international relations. The Berlin Court’s ruling in the Mykonos trial explicitly named the Iranian government as responsible for the assassination, stating that the orders had come from the highest levels of leadership in Tehran.

Mousavian’s narrative fails to address how Iran’s actions in Europe, including the Mykonos attack, severely damaged its diplomatic relationships. The trial and its aftermath demonstrated Iran’s willingness to conduct state-sponsored terrorism on foreign soil, fundamentally breaching international law and the norms of diplomatic engagement. The verdict was a landmark moment, as it was one of the first times a European court directly accused the Iranian government of such grave actions, leading to a diplomatic fallout between Iran and Germany. This fallout was not, as Mousavian suggests, due to US pressure or unwillingness to normalize relations but was a direct response to Iran’s aggressive and unlawful actions in Europe.

The documentary “Holy War,” by Reza Allamezadeh for Dutch television in 1994, delves into this tense period before the Mykonos trial verdict in 1997. The film highlighted how the Iranian embassy, led by Mousavian at the time, attempted to suppress its broadcast. Upon realizing Allamezadeh’s involvement, the embassy tried to buy the film to prevent its airing. It resorted to veiled threats against the filmmaker and his family when their initial attempts failed. The documentary ultimately aired, drawing significant viewership, and contributing to the public discourse on Iran’s covert operations in Europe. This incident exemplifies how Iran, under the guise of diplomatic relations, misused its ties with Germany, assuming that solid bilateral relations would shield it from the repercussions of its illicit actions abroad.

In the documentary Holy War, Mousavian makes several statements (Minute 33:44) that starkly contrast with the historical actions and policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mousavian asserts that Iran does not carry out executions without trials, claiming such actions would violate the Iranian constitution. He also suggests that the Iranian government is firmly against terrorism in any form and eagerly awaits the judicial outcome of the Berlin Mykonos trial, confident of Iran’s non-interference in the assassinations of Iranian Kurds in Germany.

These statements, however, stand in direct contradiction to well-documented records of the regime’s conduct since the Islamists came to power in 1979. Research and historical data, including those from the Rastyad, paint a grim picture of systemic human rights abuses. For instance, in 1981 alone, more than 3,200 people were executed in Tehran, including 104 children. Furthermore, during the summer of 1988, Iran witnessed the mass execution of over 5,000 political prisoners. These individuals, already serving prison sentences issued by kangaroo courts, were summarily executed without any new crimes being committed, clearly indicating executions without fair trials.

Mousavian’s comments in the film not only whitewash these atrocities but also misrepresent the constitutional and judicial realities of Iran. His claims are particularly egregious given the evidence of Iran’s routine use of extrajudicial killings and its blatant disregard for both domestic and international legal standards. Mousavian’s demeanor and assertions in the documentary could be seen as an attempt to reshape public perception and mitigate the international fallout of the Mykonos trial. His narrative is disingenuous and serves as a stark reminder of the lengths to which officials of the Islamic Republic will go to fabricate state innocence and manipulate historical facts to their favor.

This series of events underscores the complexities of international diplomacy and highlights the substantial barriers to normalization with Europe due to Iran’s involvement in acts of terror. Mousavian’s selective recounting and blame on external forces like the United States distort the actual dynamics, overlooking how Iran’s actions have significantly impacted its foreign relations and led to diplomatic isolation. The story of the “Holy War” and the Mykonos trial encapsulates the challenges and the urgent need for accountability in dealing with state-sponsored terrorism, reinforcing the necessity for a truthful, comprehensive dialogue about Iran’s international conduct.

It is disheartening to see that Princeton University, a prestigious academic institution, has employed Seyed Hossein Mousavian—a former Iranian government official whose professional history is marred by affiliations with state-sponsored cross-border political violence and blatant disregard for human rights. As family members of the victims of the Islamic Republic’s atrocities, we demand that Princeton take immediate action to terminate Mousavian’s association with the university. Despite our detailed letter to the President of Princeton University outlining our concerns and demands, our pleas have been ignored. In response, we will gather in front of Princeton University on April 26 to remind the public and the university community that they host an individual who not only poses a grave threat to the safety of Iranians and Americans alike but also undermines the ethical standards and integrity expected of such an esteemed institution. This protest aims to shed light on the administration’s baffling decision to protect a known perpetrator of human rights abuses, calling for accountability and the immediate dismissal of Mousavian.

The opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of Iran International