Iran Unleashed: Rouhani’s Triumphant European Tour

Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Virtually as soon as the Iran nuclear deal was finally approved by the UN Security Council, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani headed for Europe. He met first with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Rinzi and with Pope Francis. Now he is in Paris at the invitation of President Francois Hollande.

Rouhani is trying to make economic deals, but his tour has a strong diplomatic element, as is revealed by the communique issued by Italy and Iran. The communique calls for bilateral cooperation in:

“supporting the UN-sponsored political process and intra-Syrian dialogue toward a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria;

continuing the fight against Daesh and affiliated terrorist groups, while supporting the Government of Iraq in its efforts to advance governance and national reconciliation;”

These passages underline the ways in which Iran is now seen as increasingly an important partner for Europe, not only economically, but also strategically. Shiite Iran is positioned as the most effective bulwark against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). It is also seen as a power broker in Iraq and Lebanon, both countries important to Italy.

Italy and Iran also signed economic deals worth € 17 bn. (US $18.49 bn.). Euronews explains:

“The Italian deals cover areas including energy, infrastructure, steel, shipbuilding and aviation. There was a 3.7 billion euro contract for oil services group Saipem, up to 5.7 billion euros in contracts for steel firm Danieli, up to 4 billion euros of business for infrastructure firm Condotte d’Acqua, 4 billion euros for rail and road company Gavio and 400 million euros for planes from Finmeccanica.”

Rouhani also met with Pope Francis. BBC Monitoring translated an important article by an Iranian reformer trying to interpret this meeting:

“E’temad [reformist]: “President Hassan Rouhani’s meeting with Pope Francis, as well as Tehran’s increased interactions with the Vatican, is a natural and obvious move as they are two religious poles in the world.

“But, currently these relations can lead to different outcomes. On the one hand, the Islamic Republic of Iran as a religious and Muslim government is seeking to increase its international prestige and international legitimacy.

“On the other hand, the Middle East is facing an unprecedented number of conflicts within which terrorist groups, under the flag of religion, have destabilised countries in the region and spread their violence to the heart of Europe. So we can say that all the monotheistic religions are suffering from the plague of ‘terrorism’ and treating this plague will not be possible without dialogue and more interaction between the religions.

“Therefore, the 11th government’s decision to interact with monotheistic religions is a clever move that can improve Iran’s anti-terrorism policy in the regional and the international arena.” (Commentary by Karen Khanlari headlined: “Coalition with the world’s theists against terrorism”)

So on both the European and Iranian sides, the chance for trade is welcomed, especially given the slowdown in the world economy. But at the same time, Iran’s potential as an anti-Daesh, anti-terrorism force is being prized.

These themes, of counter-terrorism and trade, continued to be salient as Rouhani landed in Paris. He met with 20 CEOs and with President Hollande. Iran is angling to by over 100 airbus civilian airliners, and Hollande is eager to facilitate the sale. Automakers Renault and Peugot are also seeking Iran deals.

It seems clear that for European business, the end of sanctions on Iran is creating a potential business bonanza. But diplomatically, Iran’s ability to gradually defeat and roll back Daesh is part of the equation of partnership.


Related video:

Euronews: “Iran’s President Rouhani seeks to revive business ties in Paris”

Posted in Featured,Iran | 11 Responses | Print |

11 Responses

  1. One can understand European governments welcoming Rouhani as there is a lot of trade to be had now the sanctions are lifted. However, it was bit over the top to do what the Italian government officials did, in ordering that all works of art depicting naked women should be covered up so as not to offend this important visitor! Apparently, the French government refused to do this, but then, the French don’t have anything like the number of works of art that Italy does. As far as my Country here in the UK is concerned, he will be quite at home as this Country is as dull and drab as Iran but without the sunshine to take the edge off things.

    • Apparently the Iranians didn’t actually request this!

      (Persian history is full of art of naked people.)

      What happened was that the UAE requested this when a UAE dignitary visited. The Italians ASSumed that they should do the same thing for the Iranians.

  2. In Italy they placed boxes over classic nude sculptures so as to not offend Rouhani. The human body being the filth that it is, and all. And in France no dinner is served. Dinner in France means wine and Rouhani must not be seen near alcohol. Hence, no dinner, no drunken Rouhani, no nudity, scandal, dog and cats sleeping together, etc, etc. Welcome to the West, President Rouhani, I hope you’re not terribly offended. Or it is your priests you fear?

  3. Iran is a force against terrorism. One would never know this, listening to Republican candidates for president like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

    • Presumably, their campaign managers have told them (explained to them?) that there are more ignorant people than informed people in the Republican Party.

  4. Would there be a need for people with AAS in machine tool technology. Or do they have a robust manufacturing base already in place?

    • The answer is Yes,,,, Iran does have a “robust manufacturing base”
      From 1974-1979 I was employed as a consultant in industrial management to Iranian industry and I very much doubt if it’s industries have deteriorated much since I left.
      e.g: The most modern textile mills in the world were in Iran… They had and still have automobile factories.
      Then add the steel mills in Isfahan along with the first fully automated sugar mills and in the far south east the world’s 2nd largest open pit copper mine and refineries which have been in production since 1977 and the list goes on and on. Granted some of the technology probably is out of date because of the sanctions, but that is in process of changing with the lifting of the sanctions.
      Although from the international media one would not know that Iran differs from most of the Middle East countries because of it’s industrial base… in addition to oil.
      Further… Iran has international level universities which are tuition free. A list of the top colleges and universities can be found @

  5. A 2004 task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and chaired by former CIA director Robert Gates and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was prescient as it stated that “It is in the interests of the United States to engage selectively with Iran to promote regional stability, dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, preserve reliable energy supplies, reduce the threat of terror, and address the ‘democracy deficit’ that pervades the Middle East…” link to

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