BERLIN, Germany: U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has hailed the positive reaction among the business community to sanctions on the Iranian regime while hailing the assistance being offered to small and medium companies to help them pivot away from the Islamic dictatorship and to the free world.
While noting the noise made by the European and German political elite in the wake of President Donald J. Trump ending the disadvantageous Iran nuclear deal, Ambassador Grenell told Breitbart London in Berlin that the silent majority agreed with the change but warned “…if you’re identified as doing business in Iran, there will be consequences in the U.S. markets”.
Ambassador Grenell said during the interview: “I would argue that the silent majority in Germany is just as powerful as the silent majority in the U.S., which changed the direction of the political class’s demands. And I can see it on the strong stance the U.S. has taken on doing business in Iran, some governments and the political class were very upset about it… [however] I found the business community and the people to be completely fine with it, even supportive.
“Businesses unequivocally, when faced with a strong and clear message like ‘it’s your choice, you can do business in Iran or you can do business in the United States but you can’t do both’, across the board they are picking the United States, it isn’t even a question.
“That silent majority looks at it and says they are uncomfortable doing business with the Mullahs, and businesses normalising relationships with the Revolutionary Guard. The silent majority shrugs its shoulders and says ‘of course, we shouldn’t do that’. The political class, however, missed it… People who have reached out to me have been wildly supportive.”
Grenell’s remarks come after months of talk by President Trump over the Iran deal, which he had called “disastrous” and “horrible” before ultimately pulling the United States out in early May 2018.
As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 8, 2018
Following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, or Iran nuclear deal, the Iranian regime was flooded with over $150 billion in cash and frozen assets. Rather than investing internally, Tehran used much of the funding to support its military adventurism abroad, particularly in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. Much of its action in the region was conducted through both its official Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its unofficial terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Through Hezbollah, Iran also maintains a firm presence in the socialist dictatorship in Venezuela, in part led by U.S.-sanctioned known Hezbollah operatives.
The Iranian regime’s failure to invest internally triggered widespread protests in the country in December, leading to mass arrests and accusations of torture and killing of prisoners of conscience. Protesters chanted slogans making clear their dissatisfaction with the investments Iran made following the JCPOA windfall, such as “Death to the dictator!” and “Leave Syria, think about us!”
Under the Trump administration, the United States has not only withdrawn from the JCPOA, but widely expanded sanctions against Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime. In May alone, the U.S. Treasury issued sanctions against the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, multiple Iranian airlines, and the nation’s notorious Evin prison, known for its extreme torture of political prisoners. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has promised that the Trump administration will levy the “strongest sanctions in history” against Iran.
Fearing a withdrawal of European investment from the country, Iranian officials are courting the governments of Russia and China to replace them. President Rouhani visited counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing last week and has greatly expanded military cooperation with Russia in Syria.
Asked whether he foresaw the European Union standing in the way of this change, Ambassador Grenell had told Breitbart London: “I’ll be careful with my words — I think that governments need to be careful not to miss the silent majority and the desires of the business community, which speak clearly with their actions but are not as loud as some governments.
“I think governments really need to look very carefully at their policies to understand what the people want and expect from them.
“The business community speaks very loudly to the situation by picking markets that make sense for them, and larger markets make sense for them. Governments will wring their hands, try to make new policies, but they should follow the job creators and follow the silent majority. I don’t see the problem with the Iran sanctions.”
What a great privilege to break bread with Amb. @RichardGrenell during our interview for @BreitbartLondon. Many stories to come from my conversation with this courageous @realDonaldTrump ally, consistent conservative, and freshly minted U.S. ambassador to Germany! pic.twitter.com/ILgXV8cauA
— Oliver JJ Lane (@oliver_lane) June 3, 2018
Ambassador Grenell said: “We’re constantly asking ourselves, are we being clear?… But I think that when we have a President who is so clear, and we have a Secretary of State who is so clear about what our goal is, I really don’t see it as a problem but as a benefit. The fact is that the businesses are going to choose the larger market every time.
“I’ve been speaking to all sorts of business leaders, CEOs here, and I’ve yet to encounter one who won’t chose the larger market. They are all telling me they are dialling back and stopping Iran trade… we’ve launched a strategy to reach the small and medium companies, the Mittelstand companies, because many of them are supportive, who absolutely do not want to do business with the mullahs, but they are small enough so they already have contracts in Iran, are employing a small number of people in Germany, but they are looking for alternative markets and would gladly turn away from Iran if we can help them find new and bigger markets.
“We’re working with the different German industry associations to identify the small and medium-size companies that want to open up a new market in the United States and turn away from Iran, so we’re trying to identify them to help them do just that.
“At the end of the day, the system itself, through banking and other sanctions is going to make it near impossible to do business in Iran and the U.S. at the same time, if you’re identified as doing business in Iran, there will be consequences in the U.S. markets.”