TEHRAN/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin is rushing to renew economic ties with Iran and to engage in reshaping the Middle East by dispatching its minister of the economy to Tehran. The nuclear agreement, signed last Tuesday with Tehran, offers German companies the opportunity to normalize their trade with Iran, which was once among the most lucrative in the Middle East, but had sharply declined due to sanctions. Exports in the double-digit billions are expected. Meanwhile experts are calling for realigning power relations in the Persian Gulf under western leadership to establish a balance of power between Saudi Arabia and Iran. This would prevent the hegemony of either and offer the West favorable opportunities to influence developments in the region. Comprehensive German arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the weakening of Iranian positions, particularly in Syria, would form the basis of this desired balance of power. According to experts, the EU could play a leading role in reshaping the region, if resistance in the US Congress, at the last moment, does not block the nuclear deal.
With Riyadh against Tehran
Germany’s Minister of the Economy, Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), arrived in Tehran on Sunday, becoming the first top Western politician to visit Iran since the signing of the nuclear agreement last Tuesday. It also marks the first concrete step toward the desired reshaping of the Middle East, based essentially on a fragile balance of power between Iran and Saudi Arabia – not unlike the Middle East balance of power between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s, which had prevented the hegemony of either to the advantage of Western hegemony. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003, obliterated that balance of power, offering Iran the possibility of becoming the dominant power at the Persian Gulf, with a prospect of resisting Western hegemony. In the years after 2003, the West sought, in vain, to establish a pro-Western regime in Tehran, while systematically rearming Saudi Arabia and other Gulf dictatorships to form a new counterbalance to Iran. This was also accomplished thanks essentially to comprehensive German arms supplies to Riyadh – which still continue.
A New Security Architecture
Strategists consider that this situation offers great opportunities for the EU – not least of all, because, since some time, the USA has been increasingly concentrating its forces on its power struggle with China. Once the nuclear agreement with Iran has been finalized, the door will be open to the EU, to enter cooperation with Tehran “to pursue its interests,” above all, in terms of a possible “energy partnership,” according to an ECFR “Policy Brief.” This cooperation is possible because Iran has not consistently or exclusively opposed western objectives. This is a true, in spite of the fact that, during the years of the open confrontation policy toward Tehran, usually the opposite has been alleged by the majority of western media. Now, a change of course may prove unavoidable. As the ECFR proposes, “the largest EU countries” and Brussels, should now “endorse an ambitious initiative on regional security,” to promote together with Iran and Saudi Arabia the formation of “a security architecture” in which “all regional actors may participate.” The necessary alignment between Riyadh and Tehran could possibly be organized as measures to establish peace in Syria or Yemen – in other words, in countries where western hegemonic policy, for years, has been fomenting conflict and war.
Ahead of the USA
The Minister of the Economy is rushing to help German companies regain lost ground. Business with Iran receded during the period of economic sanctions, particularly in relationship to companies from China or South Korea. A rapid advance also offers the opportunity of stealing a march on the US rivals, which cannot yet become engaged in Iran, because the US Congress still holds onto the sanctions policy. Any eventual economic edge Germany and the EU might obtain, could prove helpful, in the context of the US East Asian pivot, in assuring exclusive influence for Berlin in Tehran and a leading role in reshaping the Middle East. The haste displayed by Minister Gabriel with his trip shows that the German government is serious about taking on an independent hegemonic Middle East policy.