To safeguard its own national security, the German
government took the decisive step Monday, January 21, to deny future landing
rights to the Iranian airline Mahan Air, which had operated multiple weekly
flights to the Munich and Düsseldorf airports. We applaud the government’s
decision, which rightly recognizes the airline’s role in enabling the Iranian
regime’s support for terrorist proxies serving the Assad regime and spreading
violence and terror across the region – with direct effects on European
Monday’s announcement was a resolute decision to protect Germans and Europeans, but also to stand with the displaced people of Syria. This decision denies support to the Assad regime, and deals a blow to Iran’s support for regional terror organizations, including Hezbollah.
Mahan Air’s continued ability to operate around the globe gives the airline false legitimacy. It draws attention away from Mahan’s unwavering support for its most loyal customer -- Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), which the European Union has described as “Tehran’s principal foreign policy tool for special operations and support to terrorists and Islamic militants abroad.”
Iran’s support for the Assad regime has created chaos in the region and beyond, contributing greatly to the vast flows of refugees who look to Europe to find refuge from mass atrocities, indiscriminate bombing, and chemical weapon attacks perpetrated by the brutal regime in Damascus.
There is no doubt Mahan Air has transported IRGC-QF fighters and material to support the Assad regime and its brutal acts against the Syrian people. Mahan Air has also regularly flown IRGC-QF operatives, weapons, equipment, and funds to international locations to support Iranian terrorist proxy groups. For example, the airline has been used by the IRGC-QF to fly personnel to and from Iran and Syria for military training, facilitating the covert travel of IRGC-QF members through its regular “commercial” flights to Damascus from Iran. Mahan Air’s relationship with the IRGC-QF demonstrates yet again how the IRGC has broadly infiltrated Iran’s commercial sector – and shows clearly the undeniable risk of doing business with Iranian entities.
Mahan Air continues to play a critical role in exporting the Iranian regime’s malign influence throughout the region. It is complicit in facilitating state-sponsored terrorism.
The United States fully supports Germany’s leadership on this issue, and calls on other nations to end Mahan Air’s access to foreign airports. The United States sanctioned Mahan Air in 2011 for providing financial, material and technological support to the IRGC-QF. We hope the EU will now enact its own sanctions on Mahan Air.
Recent events in Europe, including in Germany, have shown that Iran does not respect international law nor European governments. Just last year Iranian intelligence operative Asadullah Assadi was arrested in Germany for his involvement in a planned assassination in Paris.
Recent sanctions by the EU against Iranian agents planning terror attacks in Europe, as well as the Directorate for Internal Security of the Iranian Ministry for Intelligence and Security, show that this behavior will no longer be accepted. The January 15 arrest of a suspected Iranian informant working for the Bundeswehr shows Iran’s disregard for German interests and its single-minded determination to continue spreading its malign network throughout Europe in an attempt to perpetuate terror and assassinations of political dissidents.
Iran’s use of commercial entities such as Mahan Air to perpetuate terror and violence will be greatly inhibited by Germany’s decision. This announcement by the government of Germany sends a clear message: Iran must end its support of terror and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East, Europe, and around the globe.