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

“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.

Read more at FDD

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

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security