Richard Grenell, a Trump ally and staunch Iran critic, has been named US Acting Director of National Intelligence.
The US Ambassador to Germany Grenell has little experience in intelligence, but has taken a hard line against the Iranian regime, urging German companies to cut business ties with Tehran, in line with the US “maximum pressure” campaign.
US President Donald Trump took to Twitter saying “Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him.”
I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, @RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him. I would like to thank Joe Maguire....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020
During the week-long internet blackout in Iran during November protests, Grenell tweeted, “We have the technical ability to turn on the internet for the people of Iran. And ensure it is free of government blockers. Europe and America should do it together.”
Following Iranian top general Qassem Soleimani’s assassination in January, the US Embassy in Berlin received Iranian dissidents “grateful for US actions.”
Grenell justified Soleimani’s killing, saying the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander was “a man who was very comfortable with killing and terrorism” and noted he had been designated a terrorist by EU members, including Germany.
Heshmat Alavi, an Iranian who has a prominent Twitter following said “Amb. Grenell is a great American patriot for this post, is highly respected & has courageously stood alongside the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom.”
President Trump has appointed Amb. Grenell as Acting Director of National Intelligence.— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) February 20, 2020
Amb. Grenell is a great American patriot for this post, is highly respected & has courageously stood alongside the Iranian people's struggle for freedom.https://t.co/kfvaC4CtTZ
In Germany, Grenell has pushed American policy in the country, but German politicians have been vocal against the US Ambassador, in what is seen as interference on German sovereignty.
“Any US diplomat who acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits,” said Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of the opposition Free Democrats (FDP), reported German outlet DW News.
Grenell urged Berlin to increase its NATO contributions, which it did, and has warned Germans against participating in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia. He has also pushed Germany to ban Huawei products in the country.
At the end of July 2019, Germany rejected the US request to join a US-led naval security mission in the Strait of Hormuz.
Grenell pointed to the fact that Germany was the largest economic power in Europe, and said that “this success brings with it global responsibilities.”
The US was joined by Britain and France on the mission meant to protect ships traveling through the strait from Iranian threats. This followed a series of tanker attacks in the strait that American officials blamed on Iran.
The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Germany wanted to prevent military escalation and considered the US maximum pressure strategy on Iran to be wrong. Berlin prefers to rely on diplomacy, he said.
Grenell will replace Joseph Maguire as acting director.