What Can We Expect from Iran after the Sanctions Are Lifted?
The Iranian petroleum industry was a very effective organization before the so-called Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was operated efficiently in all sectors of the industry, from upstream exploration to production, petrochemicals, and natural gas to downstream refining and domestic marketing. Further, before 1979, the NIOC was a very highly respected oil company with well-functioning management in international sectors. In the early 1970s, the NIOC expanded impressively, investing heavily in refinery constructions in India, South Korea, South Africa, and Senegal under agreements to provide crude oil to these refineries. The NIOC was jointly active with the PB in the North Sea. A tentative agreement was also signed that the NIOC enter U.S. markets to refine crude and distribute products.
The U.S. State Department listed the NIOC as an entity of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to Bloomberg (June 2015). The IRGC is notorious for its involvement in terrorist activities and its control of major sectors of Iran's economy. Further, it is an industrial empire with political clout that has grown exponentially since the establishment of this regime in Iran. The IRGC essentially is the owner of the most lucrative parts of the Iranian industry, including the country's major source of income, the oil and gas industry. The IRGC operates almost all industrial segments in the country with huge political control and influence on governing groups. The IRGC is the only power structure of the I.R. that answers to no one and sees itself as the sole defender of the Islamic ideology and the only organization to protect the so-called Islamic revolution.
Therefore, the IRGC is the only unit that masterminds and carries out direct terrorist acts outside Iran. The IRGC does not deny that it cooperates with other terrorist groups, including Hamas and the Hezb'allah militia in the Middle East.
The business branch of IRGC is called "Khatam-al-Anbia," and it produces income. This unit owns and runs almost all major entities in the country including banks, transportation, industries, mining, the NIOC and all its affiliated branches, pipelines, refineries, production complexes, and drilling rigs, just to name a few. With billions of dollars at hand, it is very active in smuggling banned commodities across the Persian Gulf, transferring money to terrorist groups, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Khatam-al-Anbia has been directly involved in the purchasing of military equipment, including S-300 missiles from Russia. Further, in order to participate in any infrastructure and construction projects including oil and gas, foreign entities have to deal with front companies of Khatam-al-Anbia. This organization was awarded to develop parts of the giant South Pars gas field in 2011 after foreign companies left Iran and was also contracted to build a $1.3-billion gas pipeline from South Pars to Pakistan.
When sanctions are practically ended, all these front companies and their IRGC officials will be taken off the list of sanctions by international communities. Then, assuming Western oil companies step in to have parts of Iran's lucrative natural resources, they will undoubtedly deal in the main line of negotiations with fabricated companies that ask for shared profits and joint ventures and, further, demand bribes under prevailing circumstances. Therefore, any oil company that wishes to do transparent and clean business in Iran naturally should deal with IR's notorious IRGC.
Foreign firms that want to do business in Iran regardless of their skills and expertise are required to have an Iranian partner, which in most cases lacks technological know-how or the ability to carry out most projects. This will be an impediment to foreign firms' ability to carry out their responsibilities.
When international sanctions started to bite, it was only the Khatam-al-Anbia that had the authority to take over the business of the oil companies that had been forced to leave Iran. The IR's corrupt government rewarded them all with no-bid contract winners. One of these front firms, which was registered in Turkey, recently disclosed that four years ago, Rostam Gassemmi, an IRGC veteran who was oil minister at the time, purchased a drilling rig for $87 million. However, the oil ministry today claims that the rig was sold before arrival to its destination Iran. Evidently, it is now active in Mexico.
Ending sanctions will possibly boost Iran's economy, but before that, it will give the IRGC more cash. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and John Boehner, the former speaker of the House, believe that the IRGC will be the number-one beneficiary of the sanctions ending.
President Obama for the past several years has tried to find moderate leaders or officials in Iran that could negotiate issues between the two countries and in the region. President Obama has assumed that the only way to settle problems, including the nuclear matter, with a dictatorial theocratic establishment is by way of talk and writing secret letters. He is expecting that by challenging the U.S. Congress, he could find at least a secondhand leader in a dictatorial religious system to listen to his words or read and respect his letters. The response by the demagogic "supreme leader" of the I.R., even after the July 14 atomic agreement, still is "death to America" and to walk on American flags. The extent of anti-American rhetoric that the I.R. is still spewing dashes President Obama's expectations.
Since 1984, U.S. administrations have designated the I.R. as a regime of terrorism every year, one that puts efforts toward destabilizing Middle Eastern countries and aids international terrorist groups. In its annual report on worldwide terrorism released on June 19, the State Department claims that the I.R. continues to support militant groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza and also continues "subtle efforts at growing influence" in Asia, Africa, and South America. The terrorists' acts abroad are carried out by an elite arm of the IRGC, the "Quds Force," whose commander called the U.S. irrelevant while visiting Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.
The State Department disclosed once again on its most recent report on the issue of human rights in the world that the I.R. is at second place in the number of executions in the world after China. The I.R. is in first place if the proportionate population is taken into account relative to China.
No matter how content Mr. Obama feels by reaching an agreement with the Islamic regime, his performance will be judged not by ending the sanctions by negotiation, but more likely by why the president of America, the greatest democratic and secular country in the world, recognizes and deals proudly with a dictatorial and terrorist regime that kills its patriots as a way of governing – a non-secular regime that systematically executes its subjects if they do not follow the religion that the establishment dictates. History will question how a leader of a freedom-loving country that is historically founded on the basis of secularism and has been a safe haven for all believers is now wishing to leave a shaky legacy behind by dealing with theocratic dictators who have the least respect for human rights, and year after year have the highest number of hangings of innocent people in the world.
The I.R. has been promoting international terrorism and domestic genocide, and oil revenues are making these programs possible. Sanctions or no sanctions, the I.R. will continue to commit atrocities.
Mansour Kashfi, PhD, is president of Kashex International Petroleum Consulting and is a college professor in Dallas, Texas. He is also author of more than 100 articles and books about petroleum geology worldwide. firstname.lastname@example.org