By: Mir M.Hosseini
German foreign policy posits that its policy of constructive engagement is the most effective way to influence another country's behavior. Given this policy perspective, Germany considers the political and economic costs of sanctions to be unacceptably high. In addition to the loss to commercial interests, sanctions would affect Germany's overall credibility as a trading state. Moreover, political demands which might be suspect because of Germany's past are translated into more respectable economic demands.
Eleven years after the German-Iranian Friendship Treaty, Germany opened a legation at the Qajar Royal Court on Oct, 20, 1884. The Reich German mission's head was Ernst von Braunschweig.
Germany's role in Iran and the Near East remained insignificant until 1898 when German imperialist activities began. Bismarck's dismissal by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890 marked a turning point for Germany. The aggressive global policy replaced Germany's restrained foreign policy. The Kaiser hoped to make Germany a great imperial power. He believed this could be achieved through increased diplomatic influence, colonial expansion, and the development of a modern navy, partly influenced by Germany's rapid industrialization, which forced it to look overseas for raw materials, markets for manufactured goods, outlets for accumulated capital, and the capability to protect overseas interests.
In 1899, the Germans obtained a preliminary concession from the Ottoman Empire to build the Baghdad Railway, which was to connect Hamburg, Berlin, and Vienna with Baghdad and the Persian Gulf via Constantinople (Istanbul).
Germany made persistent efforts to acquire a "place in the sun" in the Persian Gulf. 17 German trading firms established branches in Bandar Abbas and Bushehr. The Deutsche Orient Bank negotiated for a concession in Iran until British and Russian opposition ended it in 1907. Germany's aggressive foreign policy and naval construction campaign added to British and Russian concerns about German competition in their spheres of influence, leading to the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907 following Anglo-French Entente Cordiale of 1904.
The Russo-German Potsdam Agreement of 1911 resulted in Russia's formal agreement not to obstruct the Baghdad Railway project, while Germany admitted Russia's special interests in Iran. However, Britain continued to fear that German control of the proposed line would give Germany financial and political influence in Iran. A German presence in Iran threatened India and the approaches to the subcontinent more than even Russia.
Trans-Iranian Railway is one of many projects in Iran that were completed by German know-how, especially during Reza Shah's reign. Today, Germany serves as the protecting power for the United Kingdom in Iran after an attack on its embassy led to a severing of relations.