What’s stopping Western firms from carrying out deals with Iran wholeheartedly? In previous posts, we have suggested that rather than the existing sanctions (which, of course, were imposed for a reason), it is the Iranian regime itself which is the main obstacle to the country’s own economic recovery.
Now, this hypothesis has received support from the inter-governmental monitoring and decision-making body known as the Financial Action Task Force (FATA), which recently announced that it would keep Iran on its financial blacklist due to the fact that there has been no significant change in its terror-sponsoring behavior, nuclear deal or no.
In its June statement, the FATA voiced its continued concern regarding Iran’s terrorist financing and the “risk this poses to the international financial system,” as well as other “deficiencies identified in the Action Plan” requiring “due diligence” from financial institutions. At the same time, however, the FATA asked to suspend some restrictions on Iran for a one-year period.
While some media outlets highlighted and even applauded the FATA’s concern over (and continued blacklisting of) Iran in their coverage of the body’s decision, others, such as The Wall Street Journal, chose to lead with the suspension of restrictions. More critical coverage appeared, for example, in Forbes, where two senior directors at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), Marc Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz, published an op-ed arguing that the takeaway from the FATA’s statement is that Iranian business is still risky business – despite Iran’s lobbying efforts to legitimize itself “as a responsible financial actor.”
Al Monitor’s Sam Borhani, however, had a different take on things, positing that Iran should be given some slack and re-integrated into the global economy despite the niggling doubts regarding transparency, terror, and more. Borhani’s argument hinged on the suggestion that Iran used “surreptitious and novel ways to move cash around the world” – “money laundering and terrorist financing,” in other words – in order to survive under sanctions. According to that logic, we should forget why sanctions were enacted in the first place, and excuse money laundering and terrorist financing in order to circumvent the sanctions, while at the same time overlook Iran’s ambition to spread its violent ideology of resistance. Is all that over now? Not if you ask the many victims, Iranian, Syrian, and otherwise, of Iran’s continued support – both financial and ideological – for terrorism.