Home/Daniel Larison/Trump Tosses the Drowning Iranian People an Anchor

Trump Tosses the Drowning Iranian People an Anchor

President Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com, European External Action Service/Flickr

Reuters reports the latest on the destructive effect U.S. sanctions are having on Iranian flood relief efforts:

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 on Sunday.

The flooding in Iran has been going on for over two weeks, so there has been ample time for the U.S. to issue the waivers needed. It is telling and damning that the Trump administration won’t do a thing to offer real assistance to the Iranian people in a humanitarian emergency such as this. The failure to aid Iranians as they cope with an unprecedented flood disaster is a perfect symbol for the administration’s overall Iran policy: they feign concern for the people suffering from hardship, they fault the Iranian government for everything, and then they do all they can to make bad conditions more difficult. As the Iranian people drown, the administration does nothing to help and instead tosses them an anchor. That has been the administration’s policy for the last year, but blocking relief funding illustrates it better than anything else could.

The flooding in Iran truly is an extraordinary disaster for the country. The New York Timesreports on the widespread damage that the floods are doing:

Nationwide floods in Iran have displaced tens of thousands of people and left dozens dead in the past two weeks. More rain is forecast in the coming days.

Heavy rain began in mid-March in the northeastern province of Golestan, which received 70 percent of its average annual rainfall in one day. The flooding has steadily spread across the nation, inundating communities in at least 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces.

“Iran is under water,” said Sayed Hashem, regional director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. “The scale of this crisis means that more help is needed.”

The U.S. can and should assist in such emergencies. It would not only be the humane and correct thing to do, but it would also provide some genuine help to the people of Iran after years of destroying their economy. It is the very least that we could do. The fact that our government is doing even less than that in response to this emergency shows that administration policy makes no distinction between the people and the regime. The U.S. has an opportunity now to do the right thing by the Iranian people and gain a little goodwill after decades of mistrust and hostility, but unfortunately that opportunity is going to be squandered just like all of the others before it have been.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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