The US is the only country in the world that uses sanctions as a weapon of war. Islamic Iran has been subjected to a new round of sanctions — completely illegal — to force it to comply with Washington’s ludicrous demands. They went into force on November 5 (meant to coincide with the “hostage crisis” that started on Nov. 4, 1979) with the avowed aim of shutting off Iran’s oil exports. The punitive measures also targeted 700 individuals, banks, aircraft, ships, and companies tied to Iran’s energy and financial industries.
If it is any consolation to the Islamic Republic, it is not alone in being subjected to sanctions. Russia, China, Turkey, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea also face America’s wrath. In the past, Iraq and Pakistan were also sanctioned because the Washington warlords did not like their policies. Between 1991 and 1996, more than 586,000 Iraqi children were killed as a result of US sanctions, a horror described by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as a price “worth it” to remove Saddam Husayn from power (he was removed from power not through sanctions but by US bombs).
Returning to the latest round of illegal sanctions against Iran, the US no longer has the clout or the power to enforce them as it used to. Even America’s European allies are appalled at the cavalier attitude of Donald Trump. Iran is in strict compliance of the 2015 JCPOA agreement — a fact repeatedly certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Even Trump does not dispute that; what he is demanding is that Iran must abandon its defensive missile program and end all policies that advance its strategic interests. In other words, Trump demands Iran’s surrender, something the moron-in-chief is not going to achieve in his lifetime.
While Trump continued with his characteristic bombast through tweets, the climb down was left for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce. Ten countries in all were exempted from sanctions, including Turkey, Iraq, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, Italy, and Greece. Three countries — India, China, Japan — account for some 80% of Iran’s oil, so the latest round of sanctions are practically meaningless as far as Iran is concerned.
Some countries had already announced that they would not abide by the illegal US sanctions. These included Turkey, Iraq, China, and Russia. Members of the European Union (EU) said they would establish a separate payment mechanism to bypass trading in US dollars. Russia has created a new payment system that bypasses SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), the Belgium-based mechanism that simply transmits information about transactions.
Russia’s alternative to SWIFT — SPFS — is drawing considerable interest, especially from the Europeans, who are fed up of Trump’s disruptive behavior, as well as China and Turkey. And then there are barter arrangements being worked out whereby countries trade in their own currencies. Turkey, Iran, Russia, and China have all entered into such arrangements. India, too, despite playing both sides of the fence, is looking into it.
Thus, realistically, while Iran may face some difficulties in the near term, it is the US under Trump that has been left largely isolated. He only has himself to blame. Washington’s demands were always illegal but Trump’s latest moves have shown how obnoxious he can be. His behavior has turned off even his closest allies. He is too toxic to touch. Similarly, the two pariah regimes, Zionist Israel and Wahhabi Arabia that have pushed this policy, also stand exposed.