Corruption, Not American Sanctions, Are the Cause of Iran’s Current Woes

Oct. 15 2020

“Show Mercy, Mr. Trump” reads the headline of a recent New York Times editorial urging the U.S. government to ease sanction on the Islamic Republic, which is suffering severely from the coronavirus pandemic. While many Iranians are indeed having trouble obtaining medicines, the problem, Alireza Nader explains, is corruption rather than American policies:

Health Minister Saeed Namaki has continually reported that Iran is doing just fine when it comes to supplies of medicine. At the height of the pandemic, Namaki said that “although it is hard to fight the coronavirus under sanctions, since the beginning [of the outbreak] we have not faced a shortage of special drugs needed to treat this disease.”

In some respects, this should not be surprising, since U.S. law ensures that Washington’s sanctions on Iran do not prohibit trade in food or medicine. European trade data show that Iran’s pharmaceutical imports remained robust in 2019 despite the return of sanctions. And regime insiders such as the chairman of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce have admitted that mechanisms such as the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement allow the import of humanitarian goods without hindrance from U.S. sanctions.

So why are there still shortages? Namaki warned lawmakers that corrupt networks are selling drugs on the black market, “hoarding medicines in warehouses, and distributing counterfeit drugs.” The health minister also blasted “a highly complicated network” within the government responsible for systemic corruption and theft, including the hoarding of “millions of antiviral masks.”

Such problems affect every sector of Iran’s economy. . . . Theft is what feuding [Iranian] politicians have in common, regardless of the faction with which they are aligned. . . . U.S. and European leaders should bear this corruption in mind as regime officials such as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif seek to play on Western guilt to secure sanctions relief.

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Read more at FDD

More about: Donald Trump, Iran, Iran sanctions, U.S. Foreign policy

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism