February 10, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

German president mistakenly congratulates Iran’s regime for its revolution

The office of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced it would not send the Iranian regime a congratulatory email on the anniversary of the revolution - then accidentally sent it anyway.
February 10, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

German president mistakenly congratulates Iran’s regime for its revolution

The office of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced it would not send the Iranian regime a congratulatory email on the anniversary of the revolution - then accidentally sent it anyway.

The office of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, which announced on Saturday that it would not send a congratulatory telegram to Iran’s rulers for the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, mistakenly delivered the telegram to Tehran.

The Berlin-based paper Tagesspiegel reported on Sunday that a “break down” in the communication system occurred.

According to paper, Steinmeier considered two options on how to communicate to Iran’s regime. The first plan was to send a critical telegram and the second option was to break with diplomatic tradition and not congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran. Steinmeier chose the second plan. Steinmeier’s office notified the Foreign Ministry that it will not send a telegram.

However, the prepared critical telegram was sent to Iran without approval of Steinmeier. The paper said the mistake was realized after Steinmeier’s announced on Saturday that he would not praise Iran’s regime via a telegram. The German ambassador in Tehran told Iran’s regime that Steinmeier will not laud Iran’s rulers in a telegram this year.

When asked for a copy of the telegram sent to Iran, Esther Uleer, a spokeswoman for Steinmeier, told The Jerusalem Post: “The text is not available for publication, since it is an internal draft of the department of the Federal President’s Office – not just a telegram from the Federal President.”

The Post exclusively reported last week that Germany’s Foreign Ministry overseen by social democratic Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will celebrate the 41st anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian regime is classified as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and has been accused of Holocaust denial and antisemitism, according to the US State Department and the Anti-Defamation League.

The Iranian regime-controlled Fars News on Sunday tweeted in Persian that Steinmeier sent a congratulatory telegram to Iran’s regime.

Two Iranian regime-controlled media outlets—Nasim and the Iranian Students’ News Agency–reported on the Post article. Dr. Yossi Mansharof, an expert on Iran and political Shi’ite Islam at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) as well as the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa, told he Post that “Both Iranian websites cited the report of the Jpost that the German President will not participate in the celebrations at the Iranian embassy in Berlin – following critique.”

The Iranian reports reaffirm claims made by Post last week that the United States had urged Steinmeier not to send a personal message of congratulations to the Iranian regime.

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told FoxNews.com last week: “Germany has a moral responsibility to say to Iran very firmly and clearly that it is unacceptable to deny basic human rights to your people, or kill protesters in the streets or push gay people off buildings. Celebrating the regime’s ongoing existence sends the opposite message.”

The Post learned last Wednesday from foreign ministry sources that “The usual practice in diplomatic relations also includes the celebration of national holidays in the other country. As the Federal Republic of Germany continues to maintain diplomatic relations with Iran, this also applies to the coming national holiday.”

February 11 is the “Islamic Revolution’s Victory Day,” a national holiday with regime-sponsored demonstrations in every city. The government decision to honor Iran’s regime comes just days Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, including Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz.

The Foreign Ministry sources added that “as in previous years, the diplomatic missions abroad were instructed to leave the event immediately in the event of anti-Israeli or antisemitic agitation and to explain the reason for this to the hosts.

“The Federal Republic regularly addresses critical issues in all areas very openly to Iran.”

In February 2019,  Maas and Deputy Foreign Minister Niels Annen faced criticism for honoring the Iranian regime. Annen and a diplomat who oversees the Iran desk participated in a celebration of the founding of the Islamic Republic at Tehran’s embassy in Berlin. Annen said he had “no regrets” about celebrating the regime. Bild later wrote that Annen and Steinmeier help make “antisemitism socially respectable” in Germany.

Post queries to Annen were not returned. Maas said he went into politics “because of Auschwitz.” His foreign ministry has been plagued by accusations of stoking Jew-hatred. The Simon Wiesenthal included Germany’s UN ambassador Christoph Huesgen on its 2019 top 10 list of the worst outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israel activity. Maas approved Heugen’s anti-Israel voting record at the UN. Heusgen said he delivered a personal statement that compared Israel to the terrorist entity Hamas.

The Post sent a media query to Steinmeier, asking if he planned to again congratulate Iran’s regime in the name of the German people. Steinmeier was also cited by Bild as a contributing factor in making antisemitism socially respectable for his congratulatory note to the Mullah regime last year. Steinmeir also raised the Iranian regime flag at his palace residence last year.

The German president spoke last month at Yad Vashem for the remembrance of the 75th commemoration for the liberation of Auschwitz.

When asked last year if Merkel’s administration classifies Iranian regime calls to wipe Israel off the map to be antisemitic, her government told Post it is merely “anti-Israel rhetoric.” Merkel’s government declined to comment on the foreign ministry again honoring the Iranian regime on February 11.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal


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