Die Linke want to expel US ambassador for pressuring German-Iranian trade
By Rudaw 30 March 2019 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A bloc of German parliamentarians announced on Friday they want Berlin to consider US Ambassador Richard Grenell as a persona non grata and have his diplomatic credentials revoked for trying to steer the country’s economic policy away from Iran. “Richard Grenell, himself, is actively involved in shaping the foreign policy and foreign trade relations of the Federal Republic of Germany when he asks German firms to end their business relations with Iran…” read a statement published by Die Welt newspaper from Die Linke (The Left) bloc in the parliament.
Die Linke is the fifth-largest party in the country. . Some German pundits have accused Grenell of “blackmailing” Berlin into Washington’s increasing pressure on Iran. “[He] writes threatening letters to the companies involved with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline,” added Die Linke, referring to the Gazprom line that connects Europe to Russia via a Black Sea route.
When Germany and other European countries and firms announced they would adhere to US sanctions on Iran, Grenell welcomed the move in November.”We are very pleased that German businesses have decided to abide by the US sanctions,” Grenell told the German press agency (DPA) in an interview. Germany heavily relies on Iranian natural gas for electricity. It has ended its nuclear energy program and is vowing to increase solar and wind energy production.
“German business leaders have told us unequivocally that they will stop doing business with Iran and will abide by the US sanctions,” he added. “So we are very pleased that the actions of the German business community have been very clear.”
Die Linke bloc members Sevim Dagdelen and Gregor Gysi announced the party will introduce the motion. The party also faulted Grenell’s criticism of China Huawei’s expansion into the German telecommunications market. “[He] threatens Economics Minister Peter Altmaier with sanctions in the case of the bidding process for Chinese Huawei 5G expansion in Germany.”Grenell was a political ambassadorial appointee to Berlin by US President Donald Trump in 2018. From 2001-2008, he was the longest-serving US Ambassador to the UN under former president George H.W. Bush.
Trump has said he wants to see Iranian trade at “zero.”
“If you are doing business with Iran, you are giving money to the Iranian regime, which spends massive amounts of money on terrorist activities,” Grenell said in the interview with DPA in November.
Germany is Iran’s top trade partner in Europe, according to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017. On March 21, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “the economy is the country’s urgent problem.”
The Iranian people are feeling the brunt of the building sanctions. Since the US government withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, the value of the Iranian currency, the rial, has been on a steep curve losing more than 60 percent of its value.
Germany is a cosigner of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) which the Trump administration withdrew from last year. Berlin remains a supporter of the deal, but its businesses primarily have chosen to abide by US trade and economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.