Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Do people remember the time when the United States or should I say the “Great Satan” moved one of its aircraft carriers with its task force just a few years ago to the Arabian Sea as a warning to the Iranians that America was not fooling around and it really meant business? Well, the US surely meant business but it was not about unleashing lethal weapons on Iran in case it did not adhere to the western demands of halting work on its nuclear program. At that time, Iran was hungry for American and western products and parties on the other side of the fence were preparing their balance sheets. And, what about self-inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities? Well, that is the role of the IAEA, which should actually stand for “Iran Appeasing Every American.” Simply put, why should the US go to war over Iran’s nuclear program when the American companies are eyeing trillions of dollars worth deals to capture Iranian market? Those deals will make the current Iranian regime look good inside and outside Iran. Oh, accept my apologies. Did I single out the US? Well, I meant all the western countries want to do business with Iran. Why would the West implement sanctions against Iran if it could make billions of dollars out of business deals that require just a few pieces of paper? The nuclear deal means nothing. So the erstwhile “Great Satan” to Iran i.e. the US and its western allies are currently busy finding ways to establish commercial ties with the not-so-long-ago evil state. We are talking here about deals to the tune of trillion dollars. That is trillion with a “T” not “M” or “B.” Iran has billions of dollars in frozen assets worldwide. Some economists put the figure as high as $100 billion. So, do people really think that the US and especially Europe has the stomach to give Iran all this money back? The answer is certainly no. So, why not make a deal and rebuild Iran’s outdated oil and gas infrastructure and open up other businesses in Iran. The Iranian youth are hungry for western goods. And in addition to the frozen assets, Iran suffered from years of boycotts, sanctions and years of war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988 and many things have to be built from scratch. Iran needs bigger roads, hospitals, modern airports, more electricity and of course modernized oil and gas facilities. So, what is the next step for Iran? Just a few days after the announcement of the nuclear deal between Iran and the West including Russia, top politicians and company CEOs already booked flights to Tehran. The world was not surprised to see British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Iran shaking hands in a press conference with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a historical announcement to restore full diplomatic relations and reopening of the British Embassy in Tehran. It is business so never mind and forget that four years ago Iranian protesters had stormed the British embassy. But do people really believe that protesters in Iran could storm the British embassy without the nod from their supreme leader? I don’t think so. But again, what is the next step that could change the dynamics of the world politics. The answer is simple. The US just restored its relations with its once archenemy Cuba after half a century of enmity so why can’t the same be done with Iran? I don’t care what the Iranians say about America. I went to schools in the US in the 1970s and knew many Iranians in my school and still cherish their friendship, they all loved America. And I have met many Iranians in Saudi Arabia who come for business, or to perform Umrah or Haj. They all love the US and many of them buy many American products from Saudi Arabia to take back with them to their friends and families. I think restoration of full-fledged US-Iran ties is now just a matter of time. We are talking about trillion-dollar business so American companies’ CEOs will forget about the 444 days that the Americans were held hostages and the Iranians will forget the skirmishes that occurred between the two countries’ navies and the Iranians will forget that America took the side of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran war. Iranians want American friendship and goods and the Americans want access to Iranian market. And let us not forget the hundreds of thousands of Iranians living in the US (and the West) who will leave no stone unturned to facilitate those business deals. At the end, the Americans will get the Shish Kabab and the Iranians will have a taste of the juicy Big Macs. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. N-deal: It’s All About Business reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.