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MAXIMUM PRESSURE POLICY

Latest sanctions on Iran are futile

Any internal reform by Iranians will not be based on military threats and sanctions by outsiders.

In Summary

• Khamenei never makes a foreign trip, let alone to the US, and does not have any money overseas to be frozen.

• IRGC commanders have no interest in the US and see resistance against it as of value

In its latest step and in response to the downing of its Global Hawk drone, the US administration issued fresh sanctions against Iran on Monday.

The latest measures are supposed to target the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, and a number of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders. Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will join the club reportedly by next week.

The sanctions came just after President Donald Trump tweeted that he welcomes negotiations with Iran "without any conditions". 

Sanctions on the petrochemical industry have been the most serious step so far but they have had no serious harm on Iran’s economy and its resistance. Putting people like Ayatollah Khamenei and Dr Zarif on the list of sanctions is an indicator that the Americans do not have anything serious at hand to consider for sanctions.

In other words, the mere fact that Washington’s toughest reaction to the targeting of its $200 million (Sh20.43 billion) drone by the IRGC (as was claimed without any evidence) is neither a military response nor cyber warfare, shows just how paralysed the US is in front of the Islamic Republic.

The mere fact that Washington’s toughest reaction to the targeting of its $200 million (Sh20.43 billion) drone by the IRGC (as was claimed without any evidence) is neither a military response nor cyber warfare, shows just how paralysed the US is in front of the Islamic Republic.

The Leader of the Revolution never makes a foreign trip, let alone to the United States, and does not have any money overseas to be frozen. IRGC commanders have no interest in the US and see resistance against it as of value. They are ready to be martyred on that front. The White House is well aware of the futility of these sanctions and is just doing it to appeal to the American public opinion.

The US sanctions against Iran are a stifling and brutal crackdown on the basic well-being of its people. The US has imposed tough conditions on Iran that involve changing its basic national course, not just preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Those demands cannot be achieved by sanctions and increasing Iran's economic difficulties. Unless the US destroys the Iranian regime and subverts Iran culturally, the demands are unrealistic.

President Rouhani has said he welcomes US diplomatic overtures but has refused new diplomacy under the economic sanctions and threats of military actions. He has chosen “resistance”. How does any head of state make deals with Trump, who has destroyed previous deals such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)?

How can the US be trusted when all it does is to make threats? How can Iran walk away from the JCPOA without bringing down on its head the wrath of the UN and other countries, including signatories to the JCPOA? It makes no sense for Trump to insist that Iran, displaying weakness and submission, call HIM for further negotiations.

From a tactical and logical standpoint, Iran’s leaders have said they do not want a war with the US. John Bolton, Michael Pompeo, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammad bin Salman, among others, may push for a US attack on Iran, but it’s hard to imagine that they do not realise that even if Iran suffers mightily as a result of US bombing, Israel and Saudi Arabia would also suffer mightily from any Iranian defensive retaliation. And so would the economies of every country on earth.

 

It seems apparent that the “maximum pressure” the US and its “allies” have inflicted on Iran cannot (logically anyway) have any other aim but to bring the country to its knees with abject demands for relief from sanctions and threats.

Trump and his minions have made a truly absurd bet: that suffering Iranians would rise up against their government. If anything, Iranians are tighter with the extant government than they might otherwise be. Any desired internal reform on the part of Iran’s people will not be based on military threats and sanctions by outsiders.

If the "maximum pressure policy" was ever meant to entice Iran to renegotiate, it has blatantly failed. To bring Iran back to the table, Trump needs to drop the failed "maximum pressure" policy, join the JCPOA in good faith, and purge his foreign policy team of elements that could sabotage any eventual talks. Otherwise, as Iran's Supreme Leader recently said, Iran will keep viewing negotiations as plainly "harmful".

Cultural Council Embassy of Iran, Nairobi