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Sanctions and the True Intentions of the "International Community"

Bringing the People of Iran to Their Knees

By Soheil Asefi

October 20, 2012 "Counterpunch" - -Berlin - The European Union agreed to new sanctions against Iran on Monday, October 15 to force Tehran to comply with international demands that it scale back its nuclear program. At the same time, violence and protest in Iran as currency drops in value was in last week’s news headlines. The new phase of widespread discontent has intensified the abeyance of the stranded people of Iran.

Disruption in drug imports is just a piece of the grave consequences of the international sanctions on Iran. Iranian media report that the country is facing shortages of medicine needed for the treatment of a number of illnesses — including life-threatening conditions like cancer and heart disease, pulmonary problems, hemophilia, and multiple sclerosis. Meanwhile, the stern sanctions which have been imposed against Iranians are going to become a hope for the so-called international community and Iranian neoliberal forces. In light of the lassitude of an unattached opposition, inevitable failure of the ruling theocracy in Iran is going to become an unmitigated tragedy.

The International Community Wants It All

Meanwhile, recent protests and clashes at the center of Tehran seeing delirium of a bunch of factotum of the U.S think-thanks is no surprise for the seasoned political observers though it could be like an alarm for progressive forces in Iran and diaspora. The forces whose voices you can barely hear in the mainstream media. Strictly speaking, the deadlock of Iran’s regime could depict a horrific familiar story of domination in the Middle East. It seems the process of “The Greater Middle East” of Newcons is fulfilled by another puppet of AIPAC and its EU allies, tragically with a Nobel peace prize in hand. It seems liberalization in the Middle East is likely to lead to privatization. Recent upheavals in Iran show us, at all costs, even bringing down the desperate people to their knees, the plan must keep going.

Furthermore, it seems part of the ruling system will have the upper hand beyond all this current hew and cry over the political exercise of Iran’s nuclear program. It seems the shoo-in is a bunch of military people that monopolise capital and power and keep it in their hands, which is little surprise for those cognizant observers who realize the nature of this regime and also the so-called international community and its insatiable interests.

The fate of the Iran negotiations with the 5 +1 group is still not clear. Behind-the-scene talks are going on and the emerging doctrine of the United States could perform a big role like a turning point in the upcoming negotiations with Iran, especially after the US election as Ahmadinejad pointed out on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program, “Following the election, certainly the atmosphere will be much more stable, and important decisions can be made and announced.” Nevertheless Machiavellism and greed of the Western side could lead to any kind of unpredictable excitement. It is the most important part of imperialist character. They just want it all.

As a matter of fact, Iran under the mob rule regime and insatiable desire of the global capitalism is going to be crippled in the coming months and the society is on the verge of collapse as I pointed out earlier. Let’s now take a closer look at current conditions.

The IMF and recent economic crisis in Iran

The Rial exchange rate against the dollar and other foreign currencies has suddenly taken an upward turn.  Ahmadinejad claimed that the impact of sanctions lies at the bottom of it. His opponents within the regime and supporters of the regime of capitalist restoration solutions in the so-called opposition, all trying to purport just the government’s inability to recognize signs of currency crises. But what is the reality?

Apart of the role of the merchants, the “Bazaaris” and the money-changers in these growing protests against an unpopular government to understand the reasons behind the collapse of the Rial policies should be put at the back. It is important at this point to show that contrary to all the agitation that is done, the most important reason behind  the collapse of the Rial, tie in with the advises of the IMF. The Islamic Republic with cutting the subsidies are in force IMF’s prescriptions religiously.

Needless to say, the current regime in Iran is experiencing an economic and political crisis. To respond to the economic crisis, the solution adopted by the regime is dictated by the IMF. All of this is happening at a time when neither Ahmadinejad, nor any of his opponents, including  the reformists and their cohorts (Eslah talaban) and the conservatives (Osoolgarayan)have any structured economic plans or ways out of the crisis except the prescriptions of the IMF.

One justification was that since the 3rd Development Plan the preparations were made for “targeted subsidies” [i.e. elimination of subsidies], and some sort of stabilisation and shift was planned. Here it is also necessary to recognise the roots of the specific policies of all these governments in neo-liberalism. The other pretext in favour of the government was the interpretation of Article 44 of the Constitution (dealing with ownership in macro economy) and the role of this Article in favour of the government. [With the executive order of the Islamic Supreme Leader] the 9th government [1st terms of Ahmadinejad in office] gained a solid support in terms of high military and political power, and from the clergy and also ideologically.

Therefore, it got the opportunity to implement these changes and reforms. The other reason was that the Ahmadinejad government itself was very keen on making these changes. The militarised capitalism has its own needs and necessities, one of them is the elimination of subsidies. The ultimate goal of neo-liberal and neo-conservative capitalism (which eventually is the economic model of the Ahmadinejad government) is to eliminate the subsidies, because it wants to convert labour to a commodity and release it in the market, and not taking any responsibility to protect wages and the standard living of people. These responsibilities are considered barriers for the foreign investments which the government is seeking with a staggering hunger.

We clearly see that with regard to development plans and economic studies they constantly recommend getting the approval of a foreign consultant in any way possible, even by paying extra money. In many cases they know that a foreign consultant does not even have ten percent of the information or analytical knowledge of a domestic consultant, but they insist on getting its approval. This is because they want to open the doors for foreign capital.  Capitalism does not like unions and syndicates; does not like subsidies. It just wants to take advantage of cheap labour and run its business. It wants to take advantage of unemployment, and reduced wages.

The ignorance of comprehension of the society and the political system

According to reports Victoria Nuland, the US state department’s spokeswoman, was quick to attribute the rial’s recent ill fate to “the unrelenting and increasingly successful international pressure” on Iran’s economy. Earlier in the week, Israel’s finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, alleged that the sanctions were pushing the Iranian economy towards collapse and in this flagrant sequential statements in another impudently statement Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the sanctions have had an impact as well, but that could be quickly remedied if the Iranian government was willing to work with the so-called international community “ in a sincere manner.”

Just a glimpse on the recent story of the New York Times from Tehran would be adequate for seasoned political observers to estimate the Westerners’ agendas for this country. Is it the harsh punishment of the people of a historic geopolitical country in the Middle East who was the victims of political Islam which has been received during  the cold war era and still paying the heavy price of this curio for plot of imperialism?

This climate is so reminiscent of the way people were treated during unrequited revolution of 1979 though there are some characteristic differences with the cold war era. The problem lies in the agenda of the Iranian New-liberal forces and a bunch of contrite leftists in the mainstream media under the name of the so-called opposition who strongly believed the only way which will stop Iran is crippling sanctions or even the so-called humanitarian intervention. They believed the only way to release and get out of this situation is succour of the so-called international community because there is no such thing as Imperialism anymore thus we have to be realistic.

The question which you cannot find in the mainstream media is about the historic notion of Iran: what is the nature of the Islamic Republic today? what is our specific stand to some in-depth topics like imperialism, domination and exploitation in today’s world? etc.

It seems there is a blanket agreement on trounce the Iranian people in order to establish domination in region and particularly Iran.

In short, despite any kind of horse-trading between the Islamic Republic and the so-called international community, a principled stand against imperialist intervention of any kind, including military intervention, sanctions, public relations war, organizing the colorful movements and so on and so forth seems like an obligation of conscience for the progressive forces around the world. Regrettably most of these mainstream activists, particularly the Iranian so-called activists in the diaspora, are unable to understand this verity that society has its own existence distinct from diverse political systems that govern it.  Political systems come and go in a short period of time. What remains is society.  No one should let a society be destroyed because of its government.

Soheil Asefi is an Iranian journalist in Berlin. He left Iran some years ago after a ten- year professional experience of major Iranian media outlets. He had been in prison and was released on bail.   He came to Germany as the guest of the City of Nuremberg under the project ‘Writers in Exile’ funded by the German Pen Center. He is the recipient of the Hermann Kasten award in Nuremberg.

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Carnage or Sanctions? Six Million Iranian Lives at Stake

By Ismail Salami

October 20, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -   The US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran which directly and painfully target the population have created an inconceivable situation for those whose very lives depend on the medicine adversely affected by these barbaric sanctions.

The West is sharply aware of the devastating inhuman effects of the sanctions on the sick people. On September 4, the Washington Post published an article titled “In Iran, Sanctions Take Toll On The Sick,” which details how drug shortages are particularly affecting “cancer patients and those being treated for complex disorders such as hemophilia, multiple sclerosis and Thalassemia, as well as transplant and kidney dialysis patients.”

Fatemeh Hashemi, Head of Iran’s Charity Institute for Special Diseases, has voiced grave concern for the six million patients suffering from special diseases and their families who are desperately wrestling with the problems originating therefrom. In fact, the US-led sanctions are exacting their deadly toll on the terminally ailing patients.

“We feel the shortage mainly for cancer and MS drugs. Of course, Thalassemia and dialysis patients are also the targets of these hardships. All these problems stem from the sanctions the US has imposed on the banking sector and the difficulties in transferring foreign currency,” Hashemi said.

The bitter question is: Is the West taking sadistic pleasure in incurring genocidal deaths or does the West naively believe that they are achieving their fiendish goals in the Muslim country?

Bitterly exasperated by the fact that a large multitude of patients are on the brink of death on account of the US-led sanctions, Fatemeh Hashemi wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon two months ago. Part of the letter which was sent through the Iranian Foreign Ministry reads: “Although medicine is not included in the list of the sanctions, the aftermaths of the sanctions, the impossibility of transferring money through the banks as well as the appalling atmosphere created thus has cast its cumbersome shadow upon medicine and healthcare in Iran and has austerely affected the import of medicines in the country. As the head of an institute dealing with the lives of six million patients, I hereby implore you to exert all your endeavors to champion human rights in lifting the sanctions as they are political in nature and prove to the inexcusable detriment of the patients in Iran.”

Many of the Thalassemia patients in Iran are threatened by death due to the paucity of Desferrioxamine or Desferal, a medicine which helps keep their blood iron at a safe level in the body. Thalassemia patients keep having blood transfusions which cause extra iron in the body. When blood transfusions are regular, iron gathers in the body and is amassed in some organs such as the liver, the heart, and the endocrine glands. Functioning as a foreign body, the iron eventually damages the organs. One of the main drugs which helps keep the blood iron at a safe level is desferrioxamine or ‘Desferal’.

In a recent speech, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has blasted the illogical western sanctions as ‘barbaric’ and described them as a war against a nation.

“The West is angry and they have used Iran’s nuclear energy program as a pretext [to impose sanctions]. They claim that they will lift the sanctions if Iran backs down on its right to nuclear energy. They are lying. Out of spite and revenge, they decide to impose illogical sanctions against Iran.”

As the leader says, the nuclear energy program is only an excuse for the West.

To be precise, the West is well aware that Iran has never sought a nuclear weapons program nor does it ever wish to do so. However they appear to be incapable of finding a better excuse than Iran’s nuclear energy program to go ahead with their barbaric sanctions with the ultimate goal of installing a US-friendly regime in the country. A recent article by David Frum reveals how Washington uses the sanctions as a strategy to bring about regime change in Iran. He says, “The U.S. has three goals vis-a-vis Iran: minimalist, maximalist and in-between. The minimalist goal is to compel Iran to surrender its nuclear ambitions and submit fully to international monitoring. The in-between goal is more generally to moderate Iran’s obnoxious behavior, including state sponsorship of terrorist outrages such as the recent attempt to murder the Saudi ambassador to Washington. The maximalist goal is to apply enough economic pressure to incite domestic revolution and the fall of the regime.”

Apart from his naïve perception of the status quo in Iran, he touches on a very important issue which tops the US agenda: regime change in Iran. Parenthetically, Frum used to be Bush’s speech writer and was well connected to the White House. His unconscious confession to this grand delusion entertained by the US officials indicates how very removed from reality the Washington officials are and how infernally adamant they are on bringing about this change at whatever cost, even the lives of millions of people.

The sheer idea of imposing illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic and jeopardizing the lives of millions of patients is indeed an act of brutality which runs counter to the very true spirit of humanity as well as to international humanitarian laws.

Since when has the act of endangering the lives of the ailing people become part of a dirty political game played by the West?

What a shame!

In cahoots with the US, the West is willingly or unwillingly exterminating the Iranian patients through these illegal sanctions. Indeed, they will be held accountable for the human loss they are inflicting upon the Iranian nation: surely, the eyes of God are watching them and they are held in divine abhorrence.

Dr. Ismail Salami is an internationally published author of several books and hundreds of articles. In his articles, Salami examines the historical developments that impact national relations today, and the way western people view Iran. He holds a PhD in Shakespeare Studies

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