Austria
Friday, April 18, 2014

The Iranian Don Corleone

The threats of the Iranian Foreign Minister, Salehi, against opponents of the regime demand a reaction from Austrian foreign policy.
 
By Simone Dinah Hartmann

Published in the print edition of the Austrian daily "Wiener Zeitung", 5th March 2013
 
One could almost think that it is Don Vito Corleone from Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather speaking, but it was the Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi. Addressing critics of the regime, such as the STOP THE BOMB coalition, who, on the occasion of his repeat visit to Vienna, demanded that the EU states finally follow the example of Canada and break off diplomatic relations with Teheran, he remarked, quite Mafia-like, in an interview with the Wiener Zeitung that "these groups" should "always exercise caution and wisdom" in their decision-making. Otherwise "one could end up in problem situations ..... My advice to these groups is ... to be a little more rational and careful."
 
The statements made by Salehi demonstrate once again that there can be no dialogue with  representatives of the dictatorship of the Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards, who are responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of the Iranian opposition and who have also carried out numerous assassinations in European countries. One must try to ensure, as soon as possible, that they no longer have the opportunity to put into practice their murderous ideology, and that this regime, whose nuclear program poses a massive danger to the West, the Iranian population and the countries of the region and which is an existential threat to Israel, is finally toppled.
 
But in such a case why don't journalists ask, what then does Salehi mean exactly when he publicly informs the opponents of the regime that they should be "careful"? And why doesn't the Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, whom Salehi met for talks in Vienna, feel obliged to make a statement when the top Iranian diplomat uses his visit to present Austrian citizens with the prospect of getting into "problem situations"?
 
There are, however, people in Austria who do set a good example: the Professor of Iranian Studies and President of the Austrian Oriental Society, Bert Fragner, declared last week, following an intervention by STOP THE BOMB against a previously announced cooperation with the representatives of the Iranian Holocaust denial regime: "We are cancelling any cooperation whatsoever with the Iranian official bodies in Vienna." Now, according to Salehi, the Professor probably too must "take care" and reckon on getting into "problem situations". It remains to be seen how Austrian politics will respond.
 
Just two weeks ago two employees of the Iranian embassy in Madrid were arrested by the police because they had systematically spied upon and threatened Iranian asylum seekers in Spain. For years there have been similar accusations against the Embassy in Vienna and its Cultural Department, which Iranian opponents refer to as merely "a nest of spies". A suitable reaction to the current threats by Salehi would be to finally close the Embassy of the Iranian regime.

Simone Dinah Hartmann is the spokesperson of the European Coalition STOP THE BOMB

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