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Doing business on the map of Iran.

I wonder when the international community would stop pretending it cares for human rights. Tell me when it last really cared for humanity. In modern times, not to speak of the communist and fascist powers, even democratic ones have often looked the other way.   President F. D Roosevelt of the United States–  the nation that has continued to  inspire the movements for freedom and democracy the world over— knew what the then barbarian Adolf Hitler and his collaborators in Europe and the Middle East were doing to their Jewish citizens. Yet he delayed to take action allowing the crimes against Jews and humanity to continue.

The pattern of behavior of the world’s leading democratic states has yet to improve. The post-Roosevelt administrations have conducted themselves in a  rather worse fashion. Washington has conspired and  allowed dictators to flourish in different parts of the world. Volumes have been reported and written on the predicament of minorities in Iran— women, gays, Christians, Baha’is, Jews, Kurds,  and others—since the sectarian ayatollahs replaced the authoritarian Shah  in Iran.  But who cares ? American President Jimmy Carter looked the other way when the Mullah-led forces arrived on the scene in Tehran and his successors did not have the spine to do anything constructive on the front of Iranians’ fundamental freedoms.


Of the  six world powers that have negotiated the recent Vienna deal with Iran on its nuclear weapon program, four claim to be  democracies. These democracies  know well the culture of the ayatollahs is too deceptive to be trusted and that Tehran while under their rule will never stop its  clandestine nuclear program. The democracies also know the deal will embolden the ayatollahs in Tehran to proceed with their rights violations at home and sponsorship of terror abroad. Yet they have favored the deal.

Why? Knowledgeable source say the behavior of the Western democracies in their recent Vienna deal with Iran can be attributed to economic interests, mainly Iran’s huge oil and gas reserves and business opportunities. American President Barack Obama is very much under the pressure of his military-industrial complex to improve his economic ties with Iran. He  has already warned he will veto any move by his Congress against the agreement. The  US   lost out on $175bn in export revenue from Iran between 1995 and 2012.  Obama cannot afford to lose more.

Paris, Bonn, and London are having their own market pressures to restore trade relations with Tehran to full potential. Until 2005  France was Iran’s sixth-leading supplier. 55% of its exports have been concentrated in the automotive sector. French companies  have also been active in the oil, rail and shipping, and the financial sectors. Over 3% of  French hydrocarbon imports have come from Iran.   While German firms,  such as Siemens and Daimler, have closed  down business with Iran, their subcontractors and suppliers have continued making deals with Iranian companies. Munich-based pharmaceutical giant Bayer continues to sell its products to Iran. British companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, British Airways, British American Tobacco and HSBC are interested in their presence in Tehran.

The sources add the approach of non-Western democracies is not inspiring  either.  India often boasts of a great democracy with legal commitment to human rights at home and abroad.  The fact is that is focused on economy. In the wake of the United Nations sanctions against Iran, New Delhi had to drop its crude imports from Tehran. This import  has already begun since May this year in the hope it would be all legitimate soon.   The other day  Prime Minister Narendra Modi  met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the BRICS and SCO summits in Ufa. Earlier, India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari met Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi and discussed New Delhi’s  participation in the development of the Chabahar Port in Iran.

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Jagdish N. Singh is an Indian journalist based in New Delhi.