Friday, April 01, 2016

Iran : Open for Business and Plotting Shiite Conquest

"There is so much to take in. History, friendly people, fabulous landscape. Now is the time to go, before every brand moves in and it becomes like the rest of the world."
"It will change very fast now."
Sylvie Franquet, French Arabist, London

"It's thriving. It's like London, Paris. It's like Dubai. It's not emerging; it has emerged."
Nikki Diana Marquardt, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

"I am still an enemy of the United States. I don't want relations with the  United States. We were forced. For years, they kept us under sanctions, and we survived."
"We ate less, but we were free of them."
Fatimah Abbasi, 78, Tehran

"We were not the decision-makers in all this [nuclear deal]. So far, even after sanctions, nothing has really happened. Our cash has not been returned. It has been all to the benefit of the Europeans who sold to us."
"The foreigners are deciding whether they sell airplanes or Peugeots -- we will truly feel the sanctions are gone when we make our own decisions about our own money."
Rafat Bayat, former conservative member of parliament

"It can go either way. Even the new generation, the  youth with iPhones drinking Coca-Cola, can go anti-American if they don't hold their end of the bargain."
Foad Izadi, professor of American studies, Tehran University
Iran 1
Citizens line up to cast votes in Qom (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The world is literally beating a path to the Islamic Republic of Iran, anxious to court the country's industry, its population, interested in investing, recognizing the opportunities they have been shut out of while the international community of global executive administrators, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Commission spar with Iran over its nuclear ambitions and its hidden nuclear installations and obvious aspirations for nuclear arms to pair with their advanced ballistic missiles.

All that is now forgotten. That Iran is a fomentor of Islamist violence, a nation led by mullahs who value their proxy militias in the world of Shiite Islamist militancy is merely incidental to opportunity. A country under the firm fist of fundamentalist mullahs who decree how the social culture should be manifested, and which cultivates the pathology of hatred toward the democratic West. A government which has an official position of hostility to the the Big Satan and a plan of stated destruction for the Little Satan.

A non-Arab Persian nation whose Grand Ayatollah leads a minority Shiite movement to bring the Arab majority-Sunni countries of the Middle East under its control, viewing itself as the natural spiritual leader of Islamist dominance. This is the country where sanctions are to be fully lifted, to enable Iran to have its finances restored to full health to further fund Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist group and the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot of Hamas in Gaza, visualizing a pincer-movement that will destroy Israel.

But Iran of exotic historical heritage beckons and the world responds. Chinese tourists in smog masks in recognition that Tehran's industrial pollution levels can equal those of Beijing, wander about, sightseeing to their hearts' content. Hotels on thoroughfares that represent major arteries in the city are packed with visiting European business executives and delegations of European Union officials. The city once shunned is alive with the prospect of a new era of prosperity.

Air France is establishing direct flights from Paris to Tehran and Iran Air plans to become competitive. The Iranian government has agreed to $25-billion in planes from Airbus. Iran Air is mulling over resuming flights to the United States. The Iranian expatriates who gravitated there after the Iranian Revolution may be interested; certainly American investors will be.

Chinese trade with Iran is being expanded. China has built Tehran's new subway system and will finance a high-speed railway. In exchange, China relies on imported Iranian oil. Tehran was honoured with a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a deal to expand trade to a value of $600 billion in the next decade.

French businesspeople and tourists are eager to visit Iran for exposure to the cultural and historic treasures before it becomes "ruined" by tourism.

Orthodox religious gather in Azadi Square, women wearing traditionally modest chadors, while families come out in festive force to view the military hardware on display at the 37th anniversary of the fall of the Shah of Iran and the arrival from exile in France of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Slogans and shouts of "Death to America" alongside "Death to Israel", resound. Crude, for a sophisticated people.

Tens of billions of dollars have been released to the government of Iran, representing assets frozen overseas during the sanctions period that bit so deeply into the country's economy. That was before U.S. President Barack Obama decided to 'engage' with Iran. And in so doing achieve an arduous, prolonged process whereby an uncomfortable nuclear accord was reached, the signature piece of his foreign policy, his prime legacy achievement.

There has been no relaxation of state repression of those accused of dissidence. Under the "moderate" leadership of President Hassan Rouhani, death sentences have accelerated, and more Iranians have been put to death by hanging, or beheading than under the quirkier troubling regime of former President Ahmadinejad. Iran and its Presidential Guard al-Quds division is involved in the Syrian regime's slaughter of its Sunni majority, as is Hezbollah.

That destabilizing involvement has extended to Yemen, where the Houthi Shiite minority is waging a violent counterinsurgency, drawing Saudi Arabia and other supporting Sunni nations into the sectarian conflict. Iran's eventual success in establishing a nuclear warhead inventory will have the inevitable effect of inciting other Middle East countries to achieve a nuclear arms cache of their own.

"While in the long term the power of the Pasdaran [Revolutionary Guard] in Iran may wane with the country opening up, I think they can still do a lot of damage in the region, emboldened by the very deal that is designed to weaken them", warns Nadim Shehadi, director of the Fares Center at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

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