Germany Bans Iranian Airline as European, U.S. Pressure Grows

Germany has banned Iranian airline Mahan Air from flying to and from the country in the latest sign of European concern over Tehran’s “destabilizing” activities in the Middle East and Europe, Financial Times reported.

The German foreign ministry said on Monday that Mahan was engaged in transporting Iranian equipment and personnel to Middle East conflict zones such as Syria.

“It is in Germany’s diplomatic interest that there are no flights to Germany by companies that support the military conflict in Syria and contribute to the repression of people in war zones,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

Berlin said it could not exclude the possibility that Mahan Air was using its flights to Germany to support the activities of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, saying that the guards were “frequently involved in acts of state terrorism.” Such flights could “impact the security situation in Germany,” the foreign ministry said.

The carrier had been flying three times a week to Düsseldorf and once a week to Munich.

The German government said its decision came in the context of a pushback by European leaders against Tehran in recent weeks. While EU policy was focused last year on saving the landmark international nuclear deal with Iran after President Donald Trump pulled out in May, anger has been growing in some EU member states over the Islamic republic’s other activities.

However, Iran Air, the country’s flagship career, isn’t affected by the ban and remains able to fly to Germany, Wall Street Journal adds.

In recent months, details of Iranian espionage cases have come to light in Germany and Europe. An Afghan-German man was arrested last week in connection with spying on Germany’s military. An Iranian diplomat attached to the Iranian Embassy in Austria was arrested last year on charges of having plotted a terrorist attack against Iranian dissidents in France, the Journal adds.

“Today, after months of pressing, the German government took action against Mahan Air to deny them landing rights in Germany. Mahan Air is an airline no country should feel safe letting land on its soil,” said Richard A. Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany.

“The United States fully supports Germany’s leadership on this issue, and calls on other capitals to end Mahan Air’s access too, particularly in light of the Iranian regime’s egregious actions in Europe,” Grenell added.

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