How the Trump Administration Inflicts Misery on the Iranian People
Secretary Pompeo offers some insincere wishes for the prosperity of the Iranian people:
As the proud people of #Iran celebrate the longest night of the year & the victory of light over darkness, I wish for them prosperity and freedom. As the Persian poet Nezami said, “even in hopelessness there is hope; at the end of a dark night there is light.” Happy #Yalda!
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 21, 2018
Iran hawks seem to enjoy feigning interest in the welfare of the Iranian people at the same time that their preferred policies are impoverishing and strangling them. It is so obviously two-faced that no one can miss the contradiction:
Pompeo says he wishes the Iranian people "prosperity" at the exact same time as he is promoting a sanctions regime that is preventing Iran from importing food. https://t.co/qoxznbBAPd https://t.co/4qpvf1E917
— Nicholas Miller (@Nick_L_Miller) December 21, 2018
It is bad enough that the Trump administration is trying to strangle Iran’s economy in a cruel policy of collective punishment. For some reason, administration officials also feel compelled to add extra insults to the injuries they are inflicting by pretending that they want Iranians to prosper when their actions show that they intend exactly the opposite.
Iran sanctions are having their predicted destructive effect on both food and medicine supplies. Reuters reports that food supply deals are being halted because sanctions have made it impossible for suppliers to be paid:
Cargill, Bunge and other global traders have halted food supply deals with Iran because new U.S. sanctions have paralyzed banking systems required to secure payments, industry and Iranian government sources say.
Food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from sanctions Washington reimposed this year after U.S. President Donald Trump said in May he was walking away from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
But the U.S. measures targeting everything from oil sales to shipping and financial activities have deterred many foreign banks from all Iranian business, including humanitarian deals. Many smaller banks that had dealt with Iran under a previous round of sanctions have also stopped dealings this time.
You would not make it more difficult for people to acquire food and medicine if you wished them well, but this is exactly what the administration is doing with its illegitimately reimposed sanctions on Iran. By creating sufficient fear and uncertainty among Western and other international businesses about whether their legitimate trade with Iran will be penalized, the administration is discouraging food and medicine suppliers from providing basic goods that the Iranian people need. The report continues:
Western and Iranian trade sources said U.S. groups Cargill [CARG.UL] and Bunge (BG.N), as well as Singapore’s Olam (OLAM.SI), were among those which could not conclude new export deals for wheat, corn, raw sugar or other commodities because Western banks would not process payments with Iran.
As the report says later, Iran relies heavily on imported food staples like the ones that these trading groups would normally be bringing in. Depriving the population of food staples is a despicable tactic in service of a bankrupt policy. The sanctions are also interfering with the delivery of foodstuffs that were part of deals made before the sanctions were reimposed:
“Even deals that were already concluded earlier this year are affected and vessels carrying goods can’t discharge as payments can’t be processed or take a long time to clear,” said another European source with trading activities in Iran.
Data on Dec. 21 from global shipping intelligence platform MarineTraffic showed 16 ships had been waiting to unload cargoes of commodities and goods, including foodstuffs, for at least two weeks at Iran’s ports of Bandar Abbas and Bandar Imam Khomeini. Four of the 16 vessels had been waiting since October.
When Iranians can’t import food because the sanctions make it impossible to pay for the goods, it makes no difference to the people if there is a formal exemption for humanitarian goods. The sanctions have the effect of making these basic goods increasingly expensive or unobtainable, and that means a higher cost of living and increased health risks for the civilian population. Combined with the damage that the sanctions are doing to employment and the currency, it will be the poorest and most vulnerable Iranians who suffer most, and some will die from preventable causes. Pompeo wishes Iranians prosperity while promoting a policy that ensures misery.