Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, made some big news during his visit to Italy when he asked Pope Francis to pray for him. I don’t find this terribly surprising and, at least on this one occasion, I’ll take the Iranian spokesperson at his word. After all, the Pope asks people to pray for him all the time no matter what religion they follow. Fair enough. No doubt the Pope will pray for him.
But Rouhani had other business in Italy of a far more secular nature. He was meeting with officials in Rome to talk over various economic opportunities opening up for his nation now that Barack Obama and John Kerry have facilitated the lifting of sanctions. He apparently got quite the reception at one famous Italian location, and as Mashable reported this week, they went out of their way to make him feel comfortable. In fact, they covered up historic works of art which might offend him.
Sometimes diplomacy is simply the art of covering up, well, art.
Italian officials on Tuesday went to great lengths to make the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, as comfortable as possible on his visit to Rome, going so far as covering up nude statues at the city’s Capitoline Museum, where Rouhani met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi…
Also out of respect for Rouhani, the Italians, known for their great wine, abstained from serving it during the leader’s trip, as they do for all visiting Muslim dignitaries, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Rouhani wasn’t there to proclaim his admiration for Christianity nor to talk about peace on Earth. With the sanctions lifted, Iran is looking to cash in as fast as possible. CNBC provides some of the details of the deals that have been struck before the ink was even dry on the closure of the nuclear deal.
In his first visit to Europe since his election in 2013, Rouhani and his 120-strong entourage of business leaders and ministers began their continental tour in Rome on Monday and are due to head off to France on Wednesday. Already multi billion-dollar deals worth up to 17 billion euros ($18.4 billion) have been signed, according to Italian officials quoted by Reuters.
Among the deals struck on Monday were a pipeline contract worth between $4 billion and $5 billion for oil services group Saipem, up to 5.7 billion euros in contracts for Italian steel firm Danieli and up to 4 billion euros of business for infrastructure firm Condotte d’Acqua, Reuters added.
The Iranian entourage will be in France later this week cutting similar deals and then on to who knows where. They’ve supposedly already set up the framework of a deal with Airbus to purchase more than 100 commercial aircraft. Other nations are in line with their hands out.
This was what plenty of conservatives predicted when this entire Iran nuclear deal was being fleshed out. Yes, they had a large amount of their seized assets freed up as ransom when they released our hostages, but that’s really just a drop in the bucket. The real windfall comes with the elimination of the international stigma which essentially made them pariahs on the world stage. Thanks to the efforts of the Obama administration, Iran will now be doing deals in the tens or hundreds of billions, even as they continue testing ballistic missiles, taking US sailors captive and sponsoring terrorism. This new infusion of money should go a long way toward those efforts.
Only historians will eventually know what this deal cost us, but the price tag is going to be astronomical.