11 November 2015

Europe Can Harness Iran’s Political Prowess and Economic Potential

By Dr. Mehrdad Khonsari

The Iranian President’s first official visit to European destinations in the aftermath of the nuclear deal achieved in July 2015, takes place in circumstances where Iran’s pivotal role for securing peace and security in the Middle East is fully recognised.

Moreover, it affords an opportunity for Europe not to play second fiddle to the Americans. After more than 30 years of hard lobbying against Iran and securing their objective through the imposition of huge fines on European institutions such as BNP for dealing with Iran, the U.S. is now trying to upstage and bypass Europe in having a working bilateral relationship with Iran for resolving regional issues while also trying to seize for itself a major chunk of what is today the world’s largest foreign investment market.

Iran’s key role in securing an outcome to all the major conflicts across the Middle East including the unresolved plight of the Palestinians is lost to no one. Its logical and indispensable inclusion in the recent Vienna conference on Syria in which the Europeans were reluctantly invited, underlines the fact that the current crises in the Middle East, whether in Syria, Yemen, Iraq or Afghanistan, can never be solved politically without Iran.

Unwanted by the U.S. in Vienna, as in the Middle East Peace Process, and kept in the dark during most of the secret bi-lateral talks, leading European states like France and Germany can, in the aftermath of Iran’s bitter experiences of the last 36 years with America, play a prominent role in government plans to reinvigorate the Iranian economy in a process that can transform Iran to one of the top ten economic powers of the world.

After years of outright hostility by the U.S., Iranian leaders, headed by the country’s Supreme Leader, are vehemently opposed to any economic encroachment that might lead to creeping American influence inside the country.

Moreover, they are adamantly opposed to U.S. commercial interests taking a lead role in order to reap the benefits of Iran’s economic rejuvenation. This offers Europe a unique opportunity to play the lead role by rising to this challenge with a fresh and determined outlook. Europe must adopt a new attitude by abandoning past practices. Instead, Europe must move with a new approach that involves the concept of introducing investments along with the transfer of technological and industrial know how in Iran – much like it has  done in the case of China. Iran will then open the wide gates of its huge market to European industry.

Dr. Mehrdad Khonsari, is Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Reconstruction and National Reconciliation (BAAM) founded in 2014 by Amir Hossein Jahanshahi.