The US has begun imposing new sanctions on the Iranian regime following its decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
On May 21, describing US policy on Iran, Secretary Pompeo stated: “This sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the League of Nations. These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.”
Secretary Pompeo said America’s Iran policy is based on three pillars:
• First, applying unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime;
• Second, deterring the Iranian regime’s aggression and confronting its malign conducts in the region and support for terrorism;
• Third, advocating tirelessly for the Iranian people.
Subsequently, he listed 12 basic requirements that the regime must meet in order for the sanctions to be halted. “The length of the list is simply a scope of the malign behavior of Iran. We didn’t create the list, they did,” he said.
The 12 requirements outlined by Secretary Pompeo can be summarized in two categories: Ending the nuclear and ballistic missile program, and ending destructive meddling in the region and support for terrorism, both of which have for long been the demands of the Iranian Resistance. As far as the Iranian people are concerned, such an approach is long overdue.
Secretary Pompeo spoke at length about the people of Iran, recognizing their uprising and expressing support for their rights, but what was missing from the list of requirements was a specific demand for an end to suppression of the Iranian people.
Some in the US and more in Europe argue that sanctions would hurt the Iranian people. This is pure deception aimed at relieving the regime from any real pressure. The facts are clear:
• The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and a number of foundations affiliated to the Office of the Supreme Leader essentially control the Iranian economy.
• Counterparts for international trade contracts are essentially companies affiliated with the IRGC or the Supreme Leader. Thus, the people of Iran are not the beneficiaries of trade with the outside world.
• As part of the JCPOA, sanctions were lifted. In addition, some $100-150 billion of frozen funds were released to the Iranian regime. And yet, the economic condition of the Iranian people in May 2018 is worse than it was prior to the lifting of sanctions. Moreover, this influx of funds was used for further suppression of the people and warmongering in the region.
• Buying oil from the regime would enable the regime to continue with its domestic repression and destructive conducts in the region.
The people of Iran support sanctions against the clerical regime and its repressive apparatuses such as the IRGC and other foundations directly controlled by the Office of the Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. Their reasoning for such a position is very simple: sanctions can help deny the regime a free hand to suppress them. It can put restraints on the regime in allocating much of its budget to repressive bodies such as the paramilitary Basij (Mobilization force), which is heavily engaged in suppression of popular protests.
Following the signing of the JCPOA in 2015, NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi said “the money poured into the regime’s coffers must be placed under strict United Nations monitoring to ensure that it addresses the Iranian people’s urgent needs, especially the unpaid meager salaries of workers, teachers, and nurses, and is used to provide food and medicine to citizens.” Otherwise, she said, “Khamenei will use these funds to further the regime’s policy of export of terrorism and fundamentalism in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon as well as to fill the coffers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.” Regrettably, the failure of the international community in this regard led to more killings in Iran and Syria by the regime.
Mrs. Rajavi described Secretary Pompeo’s recognition of the people’s uprising and the demands of the Iranian people’s just resistance for the past 37 years as a major step.
“Change in the behavior of the mullahs will inevitably lead to the change of their regime. Democratic change in Iran is the only solution to the problem in Iran and the crisis in the region. Forming an international front against the religious and terrorist dictatorship in Iran is a requisite for establishment of peace, security and coexistence in the region and world over,” she stressed.
The time has come for the international community and particularly for Europe to make a choice. Either they seek short-term interests of having lucrative contracts with the IRGC and its affiliates, thus empowering a despotic tyranny to carry out more suppression and warmongering. Or they stand with the Iranian people in their desire for a free and democratic Iran, where women would not be subject to subjugation, religious and ethnic minorities would enjoy their full fundamental rights, the rule of law would prevail and the people of Iran would freely elect their own government in a republic based on separation of religion and state.