It’s ironic that on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution which shunned capitalistic ambitions, Tehran has become so focused on money. Ideals of frugality which were symbolized in Khomeini’s living in a small rented apartment have given way to flashy cars and billion-dollar deals by people who are close to power.
People on the streets may be chanting “Death to America/Obama/Kerry”, placards might read “we are eager for all options on the table” and Iranian generals may be warning about the “decisive battle” that will be fought with the US but Rouhani is constantly reminding the world that there is money to be made in Iran…lots of money.
Although legally the sanctions that have kept the status quo for the past decade are still in place, businesses from the private and public sectors from all over the world are flocking to Tehran and are either circumventing sanctions or preparing to do so.
The Call of the Rial
Obama may warn about punishing sanction violators “like a ton of bricks” but the call of the Rial is too strong to ignore. So while Obama met his French counterpart Hollande in Washington last week, hundreds of French executives were conducting meeting in Tehran and there isn’t a lot that anyone can do about it.
Iran’s economy is on the rise to the point that the $7 Billion promised in the deal are becoming less important than the fact that the doors to Tehran’s economy have been flung open and over 100 commercial delegations walked in hungrily. After years of contraction and amid a world recession, Iran’s economy is set to grow this year. This is great news for Rouhani but not for the P5+1 partners because as Tehran’s economy strengthens, its commitment to uphold the nuclear deal weakens.
Iran’s estimated $500 Billion economy is up for grabs and the nuclear dimension of the deal is being systematically minimized by each business venture developing in Tehran today.
Oil and Much More
Iran’s oil exports have risen by 100,000 barrels a day despite reductions in exports to Syria and Korea and Iran is beginning to cash in on the relief of sanctions by getting paid for oil that was exported in the past. India owes $3 Billion which Iran wants to cash in and by “coincidence”, Zarif is supposed to visit India later this month.
Money is a great motivator and diplomacy can be a great enabler. Delegations from Russia, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, Ireland, the UK, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan are hot on the money trail and delegations from the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and others are right behind them. These people have only one goal in mind and they have no agenda concerning Iran’s nuclear program, its involvement with terrorism, its meddling nature in neighboring counties or its human rights.