Thursday, August 31, 2006

Iran: It's All About The Benjamins, Mullahs

Cash rules everything around me
Get the money
Dollar dollar billz, yoo-oh
--Wu Tang/ODB

Just an example, nay, a little sample of what Iranian analysts are betting on:
Analysts in Tehran this week could not agree on just how sanctions could hurt Iranian households - or whether the international community could even find consensus among themselves to enforce them. Russia and China, which have strong economic ties to Iran, have been loathe to consider sanctions. U.S. and European officials have reportedly been angling to impose travel restrictions on Iranian officials - a low-level sanction at first - and then seek more damaging penalties such as a freeze on Iranian assets and overseas bank accounts.

Yep, China and Russia. These two wildcards are like patriotism - the last resort of the scoundrel.

But unlike Serbia (Russia), or say...oh, Tibet (China) there are no historical or cultural ties to bind Russia and China to Iran. In fact, all they have is da monies. Russia sells arms, China buys oil and Iran is happy to do business in both.

You can tell a lot from international airports about the relative importance of countries to any nation based on direct flights. The US has its own section of Vancouver International. Taiwan flights are big in Kansai international (Osaka) and Beijing international...Luton and Gatwick in London both have direct flights to all European capitals...

Beijing, however, also has a direct flights front and centre, to Tehran. And the Iranians going to and from the middle kingdom's capital are doing oil business. So? What's the dynamic here? Does anyone for a second think that the US or anyone else is going to shut off Iranian oil? Hell to the no! China needs a steady supply and that's going to be their stipulation if sanctions go down: keep the oil coming (think Iraq, 1990's). Can Iran be hurt by sanctions if oil is still flooding the market? Yes. It can. (ditto Iraq reference).

Russia, on the other hand, really is not hurting for da monies these days, and any contracts lost to the Iranians (see Iraq, pre-sanctions) can be picked up by a host of nouveau riche banana republics keen on improving their measley wares (see Venezuela, Argentina).

So, if it comes down to the monies, what's the deal? Can Iran depend on China and Russia to stick their necks out for them when the shit goes down? Nope. Russia has an affinity for the slavs, so they intervened in Serbia. China has ties to Taiwan, Tibet, the Koreas and Indo-China, so they keep their fingers in those jars at all times.

But the relationship of the business bros is just that: business. If money and product can be assured by alternate sources in some shady backroom at the UN, count on Russia and China to tell the Mullahs to stick it where the oil doesn't glisten.

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