Iran counterattack backfires
This time Merz doesn’t laugh anymore
By Vivian Micks
December 14, 2022, 11:30 a.m
After the Chancellor’s speech, opposition leader Merz enters the lectern. Outraged, he complains that Scholz did not mention Iran in his speech. He hits a nerve with that – but Greens parliamentary group leader Dröge holds up the mirror to the CDU chairman.
Union faction leader Friedrich Merz begins his speech slowly and almost empathetically after Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government statement with approval: Yes, the war against Ukraine is terrible, emphasizes the CDU chairman. And yes, it is true that NATO has grown together and is sticking together. Solidarity with Ukraine is important and Europe must continue to do everything possible to stop Russia next year.
But the Chancellor is not doing enough for this, Merz continues. Scholz is personally responsible for the fact that the desired German tanks are not delivered to Ukraine. “The more we help, the faster this war will be over,” Merz said in the Bundestag. “But the Ukrainian army still lacks armored personnel carriers and battle tanks that we can supply from our stocks and from the stocks of industry,” criticizes Merz. “Almost ten months after the start of this war, you are still hiding behind the NATO partners, who also claim not to want to deliver. We now know that this is wrong”.
Then Merz highlights another omission by the Chancellor. “You didn’t mention Iran at all in your speech,” he says indignantly. Paying no attention to a country where people are being oppressed and murdered is unacceptable. With that, the leader of the opposition hit a nerve. Scholz, who was previously staring at his cell phone, looks up and listens visibly touched. There is a murmur in the plenary hall, voices are loud. Merz seems to have hit the mark.
“I will not forget you personally”
In fact, Scholz only mentioned the courageous fighters in Ukraine in his speech, but not the courage of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who have been taking to the streets against their own government’s oppression for months. Two of the protesters have already been executed by the mullahs’ regime, both young men. Thousands more were sentenced to death. Merz is right: the chancellor’s failure to mention the country where the government kills its own citizens does not leave a good impression.
But counterattacks backfire. When the Greens parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge then entered the lectern, she contradicted Merz’s criticism: It was the government that enforced sanctions in the EU against Iran, above all Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “Thank you Annalena for your work, I know how difficult it was for you,” says Dröge. “We work every day to make the world look.” Every day the federal government tries to make things a little harder for the regime.
“But you, Mr. Merz, if you rightly bring up the subject of Iran,” Dröge continues, “then I have to tell you that I personally will not forget that you laughed here in the plenary session when you were the Foreign Minister about feminist issues foreign policy has spoken.” It gets loud in the hall, but Merz stays quiet. “They leaned back, spread their legs, and didn’t take the issue seriously when we put it on the agenda,” calls Dröge against the loud applause. There is no reaction from Merz. “Begin with your own values before you criticize others.”