German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) greets Israeli President Reuven Rivlin upon his arrival for a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on May 12, 2015..
(photo credit: ADAM BERRY / AFP)
In business, the early bird really does catch the worm and, mindful of that, European firms are rushing with headlong alacrity to do deals with Iran – even though pro-forma the sanctions against the ayatollah regime have not yet been lifted.
Speediest and most impatient of all are the Germans, who cannot contain their zeal to profit. They dispatched a high-level, 60-member delegation topped by Angela Merkel’s second-in-command, along with representatives from such industrial giants as Linde, Siemens, Mercedes- Daimler, Volkswagen, et al.
To be sure, while the Germans are keenest to rake in the benefits of dealing with Tehran, they have special incentives to appear righteous. And so Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel advised the Iranians to “improve their relations with Israel,” recognize it, etc.
Gabriel solicitously offered Germany’s unsolicited mediation services. To be sure, had he loudly shouted his moralistic message in Farsi, in the center of Tehran, it’s doubtful the ayatollahs could repress their derisive laughter.
However, this lip service was paid only in an interview to the German paper Bild, making it little more than inconsequential.
Germany, of course, isn’t alone. It’s just quicker and more shamelessly raring to go than its neighbors. Europe’s eagerness for commercial transactions with Iran might well lend the impression to the uninitiated that all sanctions were already dropped, that Iran had fully demonstrated that it was upholding its end of the bargain, that it was fully rehabilitated, that it had quit the terrorism racket, abandoned its nuclear ambitions, and that the ayatollahs had enlisted in a pacifist sect.
It’s as if reentering Iran is an irresistible money-making magnet for a whole gamut of voracious concerns – from banks and financial conglomerates to the oil and gas sector, and even carmakers and assorted manufacturers.
Planeloads of gung-ho executives are due in Tehran from numerous European firms for “exploratory” talks, while the ink on the Vienna deal has hardly dried. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Italian Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi plan to visit Iran soon, too.
Also hot on the German heels are the British, Dutch, Swiss, Spanish, and others. Simultaneously, on Europe’s east loom the Russians and from Asia come equally enthusiastic Chinese and South Korean overtures toward Tehran.
The entire phenomenon is both mind-boggling and disheartening, to say the least. Ironically, American corporations are hobbled by Washington’s bureaucratic regulations, which impede their ability to rapidly gain from resurrecting trade with an economy that comprises the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves.
Equally ironic is the fact that some of those who now most acutely cannot resist the Iranian lure, cynically never really ceased their operations there, regardless of the sanctions.
Siemens presents a most disturbing case in point.
Siemens claimed to have been obliged by old contracts which involved only sectors not covered by the sanctions.
Still, the Stuxnet virus – which damaged Iranian centrifuges for enriching uranium and which was widely attributed to Israel – ended up attacking Siemens components. This fact alone should constitute ample food for thought.
Iran’s buoyed business boosters assert that dangling the prosperity carrot before the ayatollahs would moderate them. In fact, though, odds are that lifting constraints on Iranian oil exports, access to bank holdings abroad, and funding for assorted construction and other ventures would have the directly opposite impact.
It would financially transfuse Tehran’s nuclear program and its unprecedented, worldwide terrorist-sponsorship.
Iran, in other words, is shown that it can literally stick to its guns and its “non-negotiable” genocidal plots against Israel, while the response from the rest of the world is an indulgence that triggers an unnerving impetuous competition in Europe and Asia for lucrative Iranian opportunities.
It pays to recall that while Europeans and Asians fall over themselves to restore chumminess with Iran – its terrorism- mongering notwithstanding – the international community is awash with boycott threats against Israel.
The agreement with Iran seems to be irreversible, despite the opposition of Israel and its supporters in the US like AIPAC. But the rapidity that Tehran is returning to vortex of the international business community tends to make the agreement seem like nothing more than a preamble to opening the gates of profit.