Italy isn’t the only Mediterranean country getting the full bear hug treatment from Iran. Spain, where unemployment hovers around 25%, has also become a target for Tehran’s efforts to circumvent sanctions and break its isolation.
Reaching back to January, a delegation from Iran’s strategically located port city of Bandar Abbas met in Barcelona with local officials to discuss “issues of mutual interest” and ways to expand cooperation.
Bandar Abbas, which overlooks the very narrow Straits of Hormuz, is already home to the Iranian navy – and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) is making its headquarters there as well. Bandar Abbas also serves as one of the seven ports of the benignly-named “Tidewater Middle East Co,” which is partly owned by the IRGC and was placed on the US Department of Treasury’s sanction list two years ago.
In the meantime, like in Italy, Iranian diplomats are in high gear in Spain. In early May, for example, Tehran’s ambassador to Spain, Morteza Saffari Natanzi and his economic attaché met with Francisco Alvarez-Cascos, a former government minister, former president of the northern Spanish province of Asturias and a veteran of Spain’s center- right People’s Party, along with the mayor of Oviedo. They discussed how good relations with Iran could benefit Asturias’ construction, food – and shipbuilding – industries.
Earlier on, Ambassador Natanzi managed to organize a trade mission from Malaga to Iran.
This Iranian bear hug in the Mediterranean is getting a bit creepy. A recommendation to our friends over there: since the media isn’t reporting any of this, might want to keep your own eyes wide open.