Investor's Business Daily
Sunday, 17 January 2016
Now that we have our sailors back from Iran's regime, it seems like we can expect economic sanctions on Tehran's nuclear program to be lifted soon, provided Iran continues to fulfill its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The release of billions of dollars of Iran's frozen assets was one of the centerpieces of the nuclear pact, but the agreement does not specify who will receive this money.
The overwhelming proportion of the funds will probably go straight to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the very people whose images were broadcast on Iranian state TV parading our sailors with their hands behind their heads.
Critics of the deal rightly worry that sanctions relief will only reinvigorate Iran's war machine in Syria and elsewhere at a time when pressure could have limited Iran's regional influence.
Whatever benefits the West hopes to achieve from new investments in the Islamic Republic, they don't justify the blood that will stain our hands when we feed such a narrow and dangerous segment of the Iranian economy.
Some Western companies are eager to invest in Iran, as evidenced by President Hassan Rouhani's forthcoming, trade-oriented trip to Italy and France. But for Iranians, the prospects seem dim, since three years under Rouhani have led to no improvement in economic conditions.
According to the Paris-based Middle East Studies Foundation, more than 50% of Iran's gross domestic product is controlled by 14 entities, all of which are affiliated with the military and security apparatus and controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Virtually all Western businesses that invest in Iran will be dealing with these entities and contributing to the expenses of the Revolutionary Guards, including financial aid to the Assad regime in Syria.
In September, the French Accor hotel chain signed a contract with the Iranian company Aria Ziggurat on the management of two 4- and 5-star hotels, Ibis and Novotel. Aria Ziggurat is 100% owned by the Segma tourism investment group, the Persian abbreviation for Iran Cultural Heritage & Tourism Investment Group, a branch of the Revolutionary Guards' companies.
The deferral of Iranian wealth to the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields is obligatory for the Iranian government. The supreme leader has outlined his "6th Economic Plan," which will be implemented on March 21, calling for a portion of the country's oil income to be placed on deposit to provide support for "revolutionary entities," i.e. the Guards and foreign militias.