The Washington Post’s Style section has a piece on Iranian author Roya Hakakian, who has written a new book examining the 1992 murder of Iranian Kurdish dissidents by the Iranian Quds Force in Berlin:
The killings occurred as Germany was improving political and financial ties with Iran, and German diplomats initially tried to blame the deaths on a Turkish faction. But the investigation, led by a determined Berlin prosecutor, eventually implicated Tehran’s Quds Force, an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard Corps that had a list of 500 political assassination targets abroad.
In light of the 1997 verdict in the case, European Union governments suspended relations with Iran for nearly half a year, and Interpol put Iran’s then-minister of intelligence on its most-wanted list. Afterward, Tehran halted political hits in Western countries (though they continued elsewhere). But last month, the U.S. Justice Department accused an Iranian American used-car salesman of trying — on behalf of the Quds Force — to pay a Mexican gangster to kill the Saudi ambassador in a Washington restaurant.
Hakakian makes a good point comparing the German response to the attacks and the recent alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, DC:
“Nobody had to bomb Tehran in 1997, but the regime did suffer at the time the greatest blow that it had ever suffered at the hands of the international community,” she said. “Far more was achieved than anything that we have managed to do in all the years of these belligerent nonconfrontational confrontations. All it took was a serious prosecutor, a really good judge and a bunch of persistent people… The whole E.U. stood together to speak with one voice, and Iran really did stop for a long time.”
Exactly. Beating the diplomacy drums may not be as satisfying to some as beating the other kind, but it remains the most effective way to protect the U.S. and strengthen international resolve toward changing Iran’s behavior.