U.S. sanctions will support the Iranian protesters

The US has already offered their vocal support to the anti-regime protesters in Iran through op-eds, tweets, and televised addresses, but the Trump administration can provide material help to the people of Iran by hitting the Iranian Regime where it hurts- their wallet.

Some Regime members and apologists will brag about Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “modest lifestyle”, as if that makes up for his many human rights abuses, but they conveniently forget to mention that he runs a multibillion-dollar corporate conglomerate, which funds his political patronage networks.

In fact, his three most valuable companies- the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, or EIKO ; the Mostazafan Foundation; and the Astan Quds Razavi- have interests in or links to almost every industry in Iran and are worth around $200 billion, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD,) a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

Most of these companies’ assets were seized during the systematic confiscation of private property after the Iranian Regime took power in 1979. The rest is the result of lucrative government contracts awarded to his companies, lack of tax payments, and a lack of accountability (only the supreme leader’s office can audit them).

All three incorporate dozens of subsidiaries and front companies which make it hard to get a true estimate of their reach.

Sanctions

One of the companies, EIKO and 37 of its subsidiaries were subject to sanctions from the US Treasury in 2013 for its corrupt investments. This was evidently a blow to Khamenei as these sanctions were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, even though the designation was non-nuclear. Since then, companies controlled by EIKO have signed at least five contracts with international firms including Novo Nordisk and Hyundai Engineering and Construction, according to Reuters.

It is no accident that Khamenei’s companies and other state-run businesses have benefitted the most from the nuclear deal. Some 90 of the 110 Iranian companies that signed deals with international businesses are owned or controlled by the Regime.

The Mostazafan Foundation and Astan Quds Razavi also have contracts with foreign companies, including Daewoo and German firm Deutsche Bahn.

If new non-nuclear sanctions were imposed against Khamenei’s businesses, it would have a dramatic effect on the Regime’s wealth and the people’s protests.

Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive officer of FDD, and Saeed Ghasseminejad, a research fellow at FDD, wrote: “The Foundation for Defense of Democracies has identified 146 Khamenei-owned companies and 144 executives and board members associated with these companies. The Trump administration can use the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016 to isolate the Khamenei business empire, freeze its assets, and penalize international companies that enrich the Iranian regime. With President Trump and the Iranian protesters on the same side against the supreme leader and his criminal regime, now is the time to strike.”

Source » ncr-iran

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