Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian ambassador and now a research fellow at Princeton University, says foreign investors find Iran insecure country for capital.
In an interview with the reformist Ensaf News website in Tehran Mousavian said that politics, ideological biases, and obstacles created by certain interest groups in Iran not only hinder foreign investment, but also dissuade Iranian expats from investing in the country.
The former Iranian official also insisted that Iran can never attract foreign capital as long as it refuses to solve its problems with the United States. While lack of coordination among various institutions inside Iran has paralyzed the system, Tehran’s enmity with Washington has led to devastating US sanctions and all this has made Iran an insecure and high-risk country for investment.
Mousavian recalled that once he invited a prominent German industrialist to Iran, but officials refused to meet him. Speaking of another problem that hinders foreign investment, Mousavian said that despite rich natural and human resources in Iran, the misery index, which was around 14 percent before the Islamic Revolution, has reached 50 percent. This is an index directly linked to corruption, inflation, unemployment, crime and insecurity, he explained.
Mousavian’s remarks are a noteworthy admission by a former Iranian diplomat and operative that the Islamic Republic has failed in many respects.
Mousavian, currently a research fellow at Princeton, has been accused of lobbying for the Islamic Republic in the United States. He has also been implicated in court cases in Europe following the assassination of Kurdish leaders by Iranian and Lebanese terrorists in Germany in 1992. However, he has defended himself in several interviews since then. His explanations have not been convincing for Iranian activists and human rights defenders abroad.
Mousavian recalled, “Once when I was Iran’s ambassador in Germany, I found out that Hossein Sabet, an Iranian in Germany had made a big investment in Spain. I contacted him and urged him to invest in Iran. But as soon as he arrived in Iran security forces confiscated his passport. I chased his case for several days and officials found out that it was another Mr. Sabet with whom they had a problem. Nonetheless, terrified and worried, Sabet left Iran and did not look back again.”
Mousavian said, “The detention of foreigners and dual nationals in Iran is a familiar issue in international media. I invited many Iranian expats to invest in Iran when I was Iran’s ambassador to Germany, but most of them refused to have anything to do with Iran. Sabert was only one of therm.”
Mousavian said that some of Iran’s officials basically do not believe in the importance of foreign investment, others were not able to remove the obstacles.
According to Mousavian, there are around 6 million Iranians living abroad with a total wealth of around $3 trillion but the Iranian government’s policies and ideological biases deprive the country of this huge financial resource. He added that during the past 40 years Iran has been suffering from the adverse effects of brain drain and capital flight.
Meanwhile, Mousavian added that Iran’s poor and problematic foreign relations have pushed capital out of Iran to neighboring countries.
Mousavian, 65, was Iran’s ambassador to Germany (1990-1997). His latest position in Iran was the deputy director of the Presidential Office’s Strategic Research Center (2005-2007). He was briefly jailed in 2007 on charges of espionage but was soon cleared of the charges.