How Iran’s tragedy became food for the EU’s political sharks

The helicopter crash that killed Ebrahim Raisi became a stage for European officials’ rhetorical gymnastics

Spare a thought for poor Janez Lenarcic, the European Union’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management. 

Normally, Lenarcic just rides shotgun, chiming in as EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell pops off, most recently on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter dipped out over a mountain range near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan, he seized the opportunity to come out of the dugout and into the spotlight. The Iranian government had asked the EU for help with the rescue mission. So, Lenarcic stepped up to the plate and battered up for what seemed to be a gift of a pitch, right across the plate, and an easy home run. 

“Upon Iranian request for assistance we are activating the EU’s Copernicus rapid response mapping service in view of the helicopter accident reportedly carrying the President of Iran and its foreign minister,” Lenarcic wrote on X. Seems straightforward enough, right? After all, if the EU’s Copernicus satellite system has the bandwidth to spend time spying on the crops of farmers that feed the EU to ensure that they haven’t been cheating on the paperwork submitted to bureaucrats, then surely it could temporarily deploy to help rescue eight people in a helicopter crash. 

But then, with a single hashtag at the very end of his social media post, Lenarcic triggered a whole lot of EU officials: “#EUSolidarity.” Apparently, the humanitarian crisis guy can’t even act in a straightforward humanitarian crisis without being bombarded by virtue-signaling. 

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Dutch MEP Assita Kanko promptly launched into a rant about Iranian women that tested the X platform’s character limit. “I am sad that Mahsa Amini and so many women and their supporters were killed by the Iranian regime. I am shocked that Lenarcic posted a message on behalf of the EU proposing to activate EU solidarity to save the Iranian president. Was this truly our priority? Solidarity with whom? The killer or the victims?” 

Sounds like some folks figured that a helicopter crash would be a convenient way to just enact capital punishment on the Iranian president in the absence of any due process. Because that’s effectively what it would mean to have the ability to facilitate a rescue but refuse to do so. Is that a European value now? Kanko alleges arbitrary punishment of women in Iran. Is the solution for the EU to then just arbitrarily execute the country’s president through negligence?

“It is an absolute mystery to me how the EU Commission can show EU solidarity with Iran. What a miserable hashtag, what a mockery of the brave fighters for human rights in Iran. I expect an explanation for this,” wrote German Bundestag member and EU parliamentary candidate, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, on the X platform.

Lenarcic took a stab at an explanation. “The provision of a Copernicus satellite mapping upon request for facilitating a search and rescue operation is not an act of political support to any regime or establishment. It is simply an expression of the most basic humanity,” he said. Yeah, well, the most basic humanity comes after narrative and virtue signaling for these jokers. It’s almost like he forgot which clown tent he’s helping to run and made the mistake of figuring that the most basic common sense would fly. 

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The crash ended up turning into a de-facto contest to see who could make a straightforward disaster into a spinoff for their own pet causes. “How about ensuring Human Rights Defenders and other victims of this regime in need of assistance get emergency visas for EU? Or more support to civil society and human rights organizations as an expression of EU solidarity with Iran?” German MEP Hannah Neumann said on X. Because a real emergency isn’t the crash, it’s some folks who need priority visas because they adhere to the EU’s narrative on Iran. And EU solidarity should apparently be reserved for the bloc’s “civil society” regime-change partners in Iran.

The award for best virtue signaling in an aviation disaster goes to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who managed to make it all about Ukraine. “I don’t feel comfortable sending condolences while Iran is sending drones that are used against civilians in Ukraine,” he said. 

The EU should lobby France to add rhetorical gymnastics as a new event at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. France chose breakdancing as the new event that it gets to introduce as the host this year, but Landsbergis would really sweep any competition with his Iran-to-Ukraine sympathy shift low-bar routine. 

All these EU officials sound like they’re auditioning for a Real Housewives of Brussels reality show. The way they whine and snipe, you’d think that the EU crisis and humanitarian commissioner had invited the Iranian president and his entourage to a party in Josep “Jungle” Borrell’s EU garden, and that their noses were out of joint about it – not that there were human lives on the line. 

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