Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

US sanctions against Iran purely political

Behind the facade of legality, America’s sanction laws are usually no more than the conduct of foreign policy by other means. When it comes to Iran, it is blatantly obvious. One can only shake one’s head when American prosecutors go after foreigners with long jail time while portraying them as criminals for breaching US-imposed sanctions.

So get ready for a long-drawn-out extradition fight against Huawei’s No 2 Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Canada. It must be noted that the Chinese telecoms’ alleged sanction violations occurred before the Iranian nuclear deal and the savage Saudi air war in Yemen. Still, it pays to keep in mind the geopolitical background of the off-again, on-again Iranian sanctions, which, to put it indelicately, stink to high heaven.

Unless you are a Muslim or live in the Middle East, there isn’t much difference in terms of ideological appeal or political legitimacy between the Iranian theocracy and Saudi monarchy. Indeed, Iran is far more democratic than its arch-rival in the region.

The cruel and ruthless coalition war in Yemen, now three years old, is led by Riyadh and is exposing up to 12 million of the country’s population to famine and disease. The US military provides key weaponry and logistical supply. There is extensive evidence that Riyadh and its Yemeni government ally have committed war crimes.

If Washington has not been complicit in those crimes and stood solidly behind Saudi Arabia in Yemen against alleged Iranian interference, there is an excellent case for the US, with its perennial holier-than-thou moral posture, to impose sanctions against Riyadh. And we haven’t even got to the brutal murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. But Washington has always treated the Saudi royals with kid gloves.

Instead, the White House under Donald Trump has unilaterally dropped its nuclear deal with Iran and five other Western nations, and reimposed sanctions against its long-time enemy. There is no evidence that Iran has violated its end of the bargain. The American move is simply based on naked power politics.

Ironically, Washington has only itself to blame for its current predicament in the Middle East. By decapitating the Saddam Hussein regime and destroying Iraq as a country, it has removed a long-time bulwark against Iran and paved the way for its ambitious expansions across the region.

Yes, there are villains and criminals aplenty in this sorry Iran saga, but sanction breakers are hardly the worst of them.

 This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: US sanctions against Iran purely political
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