Prof. Jan Oberg
AFTER the worst rains in the country in at least a decade local authorities in the stricken areas have repeatedly asked for more helicopters to reach remote and cutoff locations. Iranian state media said that dozens of military and Iranian Red Crescent helicopters are taking part in the relief operation. Iranian authorities ordered the evacuation of scores of villages as the impact of severe flooding spread further across the country, while Washington denied Tehran’s claim that U.S. sanctions were slowing aid efforts.
State television said armed forces had stepped up relief efforts, airing footage of military and Red Crescent helicopters taking part in rescue operations. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran has prevented the country from getting badly needed equipment, including relief helicopters.
Sanctions make humanitarian aid very difficult
Ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi told the official IRNA news agency that because of the U.S. sanctions, all foreign bank accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent are closed and no foreign-based entity is able to transfer money for flood-stricken people.
It is well known that the Trump administration wants others to think about Iran and how it puts pressure and threats to bear on other countries to prevent them from cooperating with Iran and bringing humanitarian aid in violation of these US sanctions.
Floods of this magnitude are likely to have terrible long-term consequences for agricultural and other production, infrastructure, energy production, transport and daily lives.
28 of 31 provinces have been affected, the area around Shiraz the most. 78 people have died and 1076 have been injured. 10 million Iranians have been affected and 2 million seem to be in direct need of assistance. More can be studied at the UN OCHA’s Reliefweb.
Economic sanctions hit virtually every single Iranian
This comes on top of economic sanctions that have already hit virtually every single Iranian very hard when going about their daily lives. The author has seen how this was already bad in 2012-2016 – since then, everything has grown worse.
The US sanctions are extremely tight; the loss of oil export income is severe (to benefit Saudi Arabia and others).
The cruelty of not helping in this situation can only be condemned from a humanitarian, human rights and moral perspective no matter what one may otherwise think about Iranian politics and leadership.
Game against Iran
“U.S. sanctions have prevented the Iranian Red Crescent from obtaining any foreign financial aid to assist victims of flooding that has killed at least 70 people and inundated some 1,900 communities, the group said.”
The only Europeans to deliver assistance are Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany and France according to the UN OCHA’s Reliefweb.
The main reason, one may assume, is that the US has imposed sanctions on Iran since 1979 and now applies the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian people (after having withdrawn from the nuclear deal, the JCPOA, in clear violation of international law, since it was embedded in a UN Security Council resolution).
Iran, you may say, is being punished for having fulfilled all its obligations of the JCPOA and accepting the most severe inspections ever.
U.S. has labeled IRGP as terrorists
The United States designated Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGP) as a foreign terrorist organization, according to a notice published in the U.S. Federal Register. President Donald Trump said he would make the symbolic but unprecedented move, which immediately was condemned by Iran and created concerns about reprisal attacks on U.S. forces.
U.S. law already punishes U.S. citizens who deal with the IRGC with up to 20 years in prison because of the group’s designation under the U.S. Specially Designated Global Terrorist list, a different U.S. sanctions programme.
The US also applies so-called secondary sanctions – sanctions against other countries which do not adhere to US sanctions but continue to deal with Iran. The US believes, it seems, that it can intimidate and financially punish countries – including NATO and EU – should they not adhere to US laws (and diktats) in their own territory.
Such extra-territorial application of US laws should, of course, be unacceptable for any other sovereign states. And it goes without saying that the US would never accept foreign laws to be implemented on its territory. But the US seems to believe that it is so exceptional that others should make exceptional decisions in favour of this exceptionally unlawful US policy.
What few have noticed is that Iran won a case at the UN International Court of Justice in October last year. Read Newsweek’s report here. The ICJ ruled and ordered that the United States remove sanctions that target humanitarian trade, food, medicine and civil aviation.
Pompeo’s outrageous threat
But instead of abiding by the ICJ’s decision, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announces with what must be termed outrageous arguments that the U.S. couldn’t care less. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened retaliation against anyone daring to defy Washington’s dictates.“We will no longer grant exemptions,” he said. “We’re going to zero. We’re going to zero across the board. We will continue to enforce sanctions and monitor compliance. Any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution. The risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits.”
Mainstream US-obedient media of course politely refrained from putting such a law-defying US statement on their front pages – omission being much more important than fake as I have pointed out time and again before.
This is also outrageous in the light of the fact that the Corps is a major agent in dealing with the flood disaster on the ground (as it has holds proportionately huge resources in the Iranian budget). Are we likely to soon hear the argument that no aid should go to Iran because it would go (also) to this “terrorist” organisation?
EU and NATO countries should practise civil disobedience in support of the Iranian people.
One must wonder how much longer the United States will get away with such step-by-step measures and exceptional arrogance vis-a-vis the international “community” without loud and clear criticism and alternative action by EU and NATO countries.
It is high time that EU and NATO countries – and other countries for that matter – practise civil disobedience against US diktat. If only a few countries, companies and banks continue co-operating with Iran, it will be easy for US authorities such as US Treasury to pursue them legally and punish them in various ways.
But not so if some 25-30 countries, all their companies and banks simply ignored US policies and accelerated their civilian co-operation with Iran. It would, beyond the slightest doubt, be a win-win strategy in contrast to US policies which may look like win (US/West) and loose (Iran) but, sooner or later will – drag down these other countries in the decline and fall process of the US. That is – loose/loose.
We can all do some little thing for fellow human beings.
– Global Research
[TFF Director Prof. Jan Oberg is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. The original source of this article is Transcend Media Service.]
Prof. Jan Oberg