Iran has consistently demonstrated its preference for the guise of diplomacy and its tools to overcome challenges created by its nuclear-crisis isolation. This has certainly been the case in Germany, a country which has a disproportionately large Iranian infrastructure and from which it controls subversive activities within Europe. Africa is another region of focus for Tehran in this context, particularly uranium-rich countries such as Zimbabwe.
This blog has already reviewed several cases of Iran’s abuse of diplomatic privilege. This time we’ll look at Georgia.
As of July 1st 2013, “Georgia has unilaterally revoked visa-free travel regime with Iran” that was implemented back in 2010. During the three years that this diplomatic tool – standard among friendly countries – was in place, trade between Iran and Georgia increased by 70%. Travel grew by 420%. And the number of registered Iranian companies in Georgia skyrocketed from “a few dozen to 1,489“.
Such developments were to be expected, in view of Tehran’s dire diplomatic straits against the backdrop of the nuclear crisis. So, too, this development: the Iranian nationals who heavily invested in Georgian businesses included 150 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) companies.
Not the types you welcome with open arms.
Suspicions that Georgia had become an ideal haven to circumvent sanctions finally led to revoking visa regulations, as well as to freezing approximately “150 bank accounts tied to Iranian businesses and individuals” and refusing to issue licenses to Iranian banks (including an IRGC-affiliated bank) trying to enter Georgia’s financial sector.
It is not at all clear that Tbilisi altered its policy on its own, even if it did see the writing on the wall. A few weeks before its decision, the Wall Street Journal published an expose on the subject. In the background, two US Treasury delegations reportedly paid visits.
Thus another country learned – the hard way – how Tehran abuses diplomacy to exploit the host country and advance its wider goals.
- Iranian Ex Diplomat Connects Diplomats to Terrorism (shadows-of-diplomacy.com)
- Iranian Diplomatic Infrastructure for Terrorism in Germany? (part 1) (shadows-of-diplomacy.com)
- Iranian Diplomatic Infrastructure for Subversion in Germany? (part 2) (shadow-diplomacy.com)
- Bosnia Shows Iranian Diplomacy the Door (shadow-diplomacy.com)