Like clockwork, two dozen left-wing activist groups demanded last week the United States lift sanctions on Iran to help the Islamic Republic fight the coronavirus. “With hospitals overrun and Iranian doctors struggling to procure necessary equipment, the U.S. must be part of the solution rather than part of the problem,” the president of the National Iranian American Council, Tehran’s de facto lobby in the U.S., explained.
They could not be more wrong. Put aside that the same groups consistently demand the same action regardless of the news. When the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the Islamic Republic for money laundering for terrorist groups, NIAC complained on humanitarian grounds. When the Trump administration imposed sanctions targeted not on the Iranian people but rather its leadership, NIAC objected. When the Trump administration sought to sanction the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, NIAC opposed. NIAC letters, most often co-signed by the likes of Code Pink, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Ploughshares Fund, are like Mad Libs: “[Day’s event] is reason to lift sanctions immediately.”
If the goal of the signatories is to help Iranians defeat the ongoing pandemic, however, lifting sanctions is wrongheaded. First, there is already a mechanism in place for Iranian leaders to purchase medical and humanitarian goods. Second, no amount of money will help when Iranian shrines allow pilgrims to lick tombs, or clerics tell the population that COVID-19 can be cured by spreading essential oils on one’s anus. Third, there is the disconnect about what sanctions target. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps controls perhaps 40% of Iran’s economy, including most imports and exports. This is why the Obama administration’s $1.4 billion hostage ransom payment was so counterproductive. To lift sanctions would empower Iran’s military, not help those most in need. Case in point are the revelations that senior Iranian leaders embezzled perhaps $1 billion worth of aid Europe sent to help fight the virus.
Simply put, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is replicating late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s propaganda campaign: Promote humanitarian tragedy and profit off it. The Iraqi regime said sanctions killed children while exporting baby formula. Just as Khamenei today is worth billions, the Iraqi dictator also used sanctions relief to build palaces. Code Pink amplified Saddam’s false propaganda saying sanctions killed 500,000 Iraqi children; today, Khamenei counts on NIAC to be his propaganda bullhorn in America.
And just as North Korea diverted humanitarian aid in the wake of the 1994 Agreed Framework (the Clinton administration’s much-ballyhooed nuclear deal) in order to feed its army and build its nuclear program, so too would the authorities in Tehran divert any money passing through Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fronts or personnel to Iran’s nuclear, missile, or terrorism programs.
If Iran needs money to provide relief to its people, it has plenty. It could cease supporting Hezbollah, Iraqi militias, or the Houthis in Yemen, for example, together freeing up billions of dollars in cash. It could also cease building ballistic missiles, a program in which it invests hundreds of millions more dollars. Then, there is Iran’s nuclear program which, from a civilian energy perspective, never made much sense given that Iran floats on a sea of gas and oil and could upgrade its refineries and pipelines for a fraction of the cost of its nuclear investment.
If the Iranian regime’s apologists in NIAC and among other supposedly progressive groups want to absolve Iran of that responsibility and still help the Iranian people fight the Wuhan coronavirus, then they could demand the U.S. provide direct medical assistance to Iran. Then, of course, that is what the Trump administration already did. Khamenei rejected that offer outright.
The sad reality is that the financial benefit for Khamenei and the ruling clerics of Iran’s suffering is simply too great to risk. The coronavirus, and Khamenei’s desire for cash rather than substantive help, reveals his true self.
Source » washingtonexaminer