It seems the mullahs in Tehran can’t catch a break as events
conspire to slowly and inexorably pry their fingers away from the stranglehold
of control they’ve exerted over the Iranian people for the past nearly four
With the United Nations General Assembly scheduled to start
next week and chaired by President Donald Trump, the Iranian regime is being
buffeted by attacks and threats from all sides not the least of which has been
the economic hammer blows wielded by the Trump administration in the wake of
pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
A flurry of European companies, who raced in once the deal
was approved in 2015, are now racing out of Iran with looming secondary
sanctions by the U.S. for anyone doing business with Iran in key areas.
The focus is on “bottleneck sectors” — areas where
there is little or no way to avoid a U.S. connection, including aviation,
insurance, shipping, logistics, and especially banking. This means many German
companies are caught in the crosshairs and have pulled up stakes.
Many observers expect many more big firms to leave Iran.
“We expect almost all of the European and Japanese companies along with
major Korean companies to leave Iran,” Sara Vakhshouri, the president of
SVB Energy International in Washington DC, told
Major German companies scaling back or shutting down
operations in Iran include automakers Volkswagen and Daimler, financial
institutions Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank and DZ Bank, manufacturing giants
Airbus and Siemens, insurance giants Allianz and Munich Re, airlines Lufthansa
and Austrian, Deutsche Telekom and consumer goods company Henkel.
This follows pullouts by Total and Peugeot and many other
European firms the Iranian regime has been desperate to keep. The exodus has
prompted officials such as Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Javad Zarif to beg the European
Union to try and come up with alternative means of keeping Iran afloat.
The list of companies leaving Iran has been staggering and
leaves the mullahs in a precarious position with unfinished projects, little
capital investment available and unemployment driving growing protests across
But Germany’s pullout only compounds the pressure the
Iranian regime is receiving in its most vital economic sector: petroleum.
According to numerous media sources, OPEC is considering
boosting oil production by half a million barrels a day to counter a perceived
shortfall from Iran as customers cut orders because of U.S. sanctions.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries gathering
in Algeria may indicate whether the group has “the barrels available to fully
cover the Iranian lost output,” said John Kilduff, a partner at New York-based
hedge fund Again Capital LLC, according to Bloomberg.
OPEC and allied producers are set for another contentious
meeting: Iran has threatened to veto any decision that harms its interests. Iranian
oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said the group had no authority to impose a
new supply arrangement.
According to analysts, the shift in production to cover an
Iranian shortfall could occur chiefly through more pumping from Saudi Arabia
and Russia, the two largest producers within the OPEC+ group.
As a chief regional rival to Iran, Saudi Arabia could deal a
harsh economic blow to Iran, and while the Iranian regime has worked tirelessly
to keep Russia as a sponsor, the prospect of becoming a dominant global player
in a reconfigured oil market without Iranian leverage appeals to the Russians according
Events are quickly conspiring to further isolate the mullahs
and strip them of the economic leverage they once had in controlling virtually
all of the country’s industries through a vast network of shell companies.
In typical bluster, the Iranian regime held military
exercises near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf according to
the regime’s official
IRNA news agency.
The drill involved the military’s and Revolutionary Guard
fighter jets, including U.S.-made F-4, French Mirage and Russian Sukhoi-22
planes, the report said, adding that five logistics and combat helicopters are
also taking part in the exercise over the Persian Gulf waters and the Sea of
IRNA said the maneuver is a warning to Iran’s enemies that
they face a quick, “stern response” in case of any ill-will toward Iran.
The predictable military threats by Iran come on the heels
of decision by the U.S. State Department to once again tag the regime as the
world’s leading sponsor of state terrorism.
The annual survey on global terrorism said Iran and its
proxies are responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining
U.S. interests in the region.
“Designated as a
state sponsor of terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related
activity in 2017, including support for Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian
terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the
Middle East,” the report said.
The survey said that
Iran used the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force to provide support to
terrorist organizations, provide cover for associated covert operations, and
create instability in the region.
“Iran uses terrorism as a tool of its state craft, it has no
reservations about using that tool on any continent,” Ambassador Nathan Sales,
the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, told
journalists Wednesday. He cited Iran-linked fundraising networks in West
Africa, weapons caches in South America and operational activity in Europe.