As reported in reuters, in an interview to the German newspaper “Handelsblatt”, CEO of Bilfinger, Thomas Blades, postulated: “Financing is the main hurdle facing companies looking at doing business in Iran”.
Whether led by “wishful thinking” or plain ignorance or financial interests, Mr. Blades got it wrong, and even seemed to disconnect for a long moment from reality. Did he not hear the clear voices coming out this week from Europe, Washington and the Gulf States – all issuing warnings about Iran, none of them concerned about financing?
At the end of a two-day summit in Bahrain of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional bloc including Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE, it was agreed that there is a need to “counter Iran’s destabilizing activities”. As reported in many media outlets (see nytimes, aljazeera), British Prime Minister May addressed the gathering and expressed her concerns on the threat posed by Iran. She stated “we have to be clear eyed on the threats posed by ISIL and Iran”. May was quoted: “all parties must work together to push back against Iran’s aggressive regional actions, whether in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria or in the Gulf itself”. We may recall that Britain was party to the nuclear deal signed with Iran!
Apparently new winds are blowing from Britain. The new winds have crossed the Atlantic, in both directions.
In the weeklystandard, attention was brought to the need for a crack down on business with Iran. In contrast to the Obama administration that encouraged corporate engagement with Iran, in the future, “lawmakers will crack down on business with Iran warning interested companies that they could wind up funding illicit Iranian activities”.
Reported at length in al-monitor, a bipartisan “Iran Hawks Wish List”, was devised, and it included many delights. Among them: “slap sanctions on thousands more Iranian companies”; “undo problematic concessions”; “push sanctions on the IRGC as well as IRGC-controlled businesses”; “increase scrutiny on those that seek to do business with Iran”; “extend sanctions to sectors of the Iranian economy that support the missile program”; “empower the US military to fire on Iranian ships that threaten US vessels”; “arm Syrian rebels battling Iranian soldiers”; “put the military option back on the table in a credible way”.
Senator Joseph Liberman related to the coming of the Trump administration as a “sea change in the right direction”. Chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), summed it up saying: “Our message is not going to be, ‘Iran is open for business.’ It’s going to be, ‘Be careful if you do business with Iran.’”
For the attention of Bilfinger CEO – this wind change reflects concerns which have nothing to do with financing problems.