The U.S. Must Punish Iran for Its Human-Rights Violations

Washington has now put into force a wide array of sanctions on Tehran’s nuclear activities, but it has not fully taken advantage of the legal channels available to punish the ayatollahs’ brutal treatment of their own people. As Tzvi Kahn, Ahmed Shaheed, Rose Parris Richter, and Irwin Cotler demonstrate in a detailed report, this repression is overseen by the highest echelons of the Iranian government and works through an organized and complex bureaucratic machinery. Cotler writes:

It is crucial that the international community not turn a blind eye to what I have termed the fivefold Iranian threat—the nuclear threat, state-sponsorship of terror, regional hegemonic aggression that includes mass criminality in Syria, state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, and massive domestic repression. In particular, sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program should not distract from, or even sanitize, the ongoing massive domestic human-rights violations, which should be a centerpiece of international containment and sanctioning of the Iranian regime in solidarity with the . . . suffering of the Iranian people.

It is now possible to sanction human-rights offenders on a global level, [by making use of] the U.S. Global Magnitsky Human-Rights Accountability Act. [The] naming, shaming, and sanctioning of specific human-rights violators [is] indispensable to mobilizing a critical mass of global advocacy to address and redress human-rights violations in Iran. This can also include, as takes place in the Canadian parliament, holding an annual Iran Accountability Week in the U.S. Congress to shine the spotlight on human-rights violations in Iran through public hearings, witness testimony, and the like. This can further include developing an Iranian political prisoner-advocacy project in which members of Congress can take up the case and cause of Iranian political prisoners in concert with their fellow parliamentarians in Canada and elsewhere.

The report goes on to note that multiple high-ranking Iranian officials have been sanctioned by the European Union, but not by the U.S. In addition, it points out that “the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Trump signed into law in August 2017, requires the president to submit, and to update annually, a list of Iranians who commit human-rights abuses,” but that the White House has not yet submitted such a list. Correcting these oversights, according to the report, will serve to increase both diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran, encourage America’s allies to follow suit, and provide moral support and perhaps even some protection to Iranian dissidents.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at FDD

More about: Donald Trump, European Union, Human Rights, Iran, Iran sanctions, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy