In a move that could further restrict Iran's access to humanitarian goods such as food and medicine at a time when the country is being ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration on Thursday imposed punishing new sanctions on the Iranian financial sector reportedly at the behest of warmongers in the Republican Party, Israeli officials, and hawkish U.S. advocacy organizations.
The new measures, unveiled despite opposition from European nations, "will target the few remaining banks not currently subject to secondary sanctions in a move European governments say is likely to diminish channels Iran uses to import humanitarian goods," according to the Washington Post.
"[Secretary of State Pompeo] doesn't stand with Iranians, he stands on their throats as they suffocate."
—Assal Rad, National Iranian American CouncilMedea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group CodePink, told Common Dreams that by attempting to blacklist the Iranian financial sector, the Trump administration is "kowtowing to Israel and the right-wing Foundation for the Defense of Democracies," which joined warmongering Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and other Republican lawmakers in lobbying for the fresh sanctions.
"These new sanctions, as well as the brutal ones already in place, only hurt the Iranian citizens and should be considered a crime against humanity," Benjamin said. "Let's hope Trump is ousted on November 3 and the Biden administration rejoins the Iran Nuclear Deal before Trump takes us into war with Iran."
In a tweet late Wednesday, Sina Toossi, senior research analyst with the National Iranian American Council, warned that the Trump administration's latest push to devastate the Iranian banking sector shows that "the economic warfare against Iran is heightening and becoming outright genocidal."
"The promoters of these sick policies outrageously claim they care about the Iranian people and democracy," Toossi added. "They're the opposite of civilized and have no principles other than brutally forcing their will."
When US quit nuclear deal & imposed sanctions, #Iran was complying. It was never about a weapon, but Pompeo's obsession to stoke war. Human rights is just a talking point he uses as he crushes their lives. He doesn't stand w/Iranians, he stands on their throats as they suffocate. https://t.co/9jN7BkrLVZ
— Assal Rad (@AssalRad) October 8, 2020
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According to Bloomberg, the new sanctions would "designate the Iranian financial sector under Executive Order 13902, which President Donald Trump signed in January to clamp down on mining, construction and other industries. That would not only affect banks, but also remittance processors, money-changers, and the informal transfer system used frequently in the Muslim world known as hawala."
"Then the administration would blacklist roughly 14 banks in Iran that have so far escaped some U.S. restrictions," Bloomberg noted.
The sanctions come just days after Iran reported a record 4,151 new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, bringing the nation's total number of positive cases to more than 479,000. The hardest-hit nation in the Middle East, Iran has reported nearly 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus—a figure that critics said will only be made worse by the Trump administration's economic warfare.
"After all the lies that Trump's sanctions don't affect the Iranian people, [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo is now deliberately killing the only remaining channels for humanitarian trade," said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement Thursday that the Trump administration's decision to plow ahead with its potentially disastrous economic measures "is a heartless and sadistic move that has no moral or strategic justification."
"It is critical that the American people and our elected representatives put an end to this cruel, inhumane, and strategically catastrophic suffering and humiliation that is being imposed on innocent Iranians in our names," said Abdi. "We must be vigilant to ensure the Trump administration does not do irreparable damage or pull the U.S. into a disastrous war before his time in office comes to a well-deserved end."
This article has been updated with additional comment from the National Iranian American Council.