Yesterday I made a comment about the harm that latest sanction that ban SWIFT transactions can do to Iran by starving Iranians of the food and medicine that they need and drew an analogy to Iraq who suffered such sanctions in the 90s and early years of the last decade. I was surprised that how some of us have believed the Western propaganda about what happened in Iraq and now wish the same on our own country. As this reply would be too long for a comment and as I do not wish to compete with MK and DK on leaving mile-long comments :-) , I decided to write this blog.
We should not let rage or revenge against the IRI blind us to the evil of some of these sanctions. It is unfortunate that West does not care for the people of the third world, and it is important for us to distinguish that the right that we enjoy as the citizens of our respective countries will not be extended to our fellow country people.
When I expressed my fear that Iranian children can perish like their Iraqi counterparts as the result of such sanctions, I was informed that I should not worry and that "any transaction that advances US interests" would be excluded from such restrictions. I am not an optimist and I don't equate US interests with food and medicine for Iranians. Unfortunately recent history seems to support my negative view. Here are some excerpts from the book "Hidden Agenda" by the respected journalist John Pilger that was first published in 1998, 5 years before the second Iraq war.
In 1995, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported that the military devastation of Iraq, combined with the effect of the sanctions imposed by the Security Council (in reality by the American and British Governments) had been responsible for the death of more than 560,000 children in Iraq. The WHO confirmed this figure. Jean Lennock, a field worker reported this as the equivalent of the unnecessary death of a child every six minutes. 'At Ibn-al-Baladi hospital in Baghdad' she wrote, 'I witnessed the death of eight month old Ali Hassan from diarrhoea. His life could have been saved with simple antibiotics. I also witnessed the grief of his mother. Like many of us, she could not understand why her child had been punished for the actions of the Iraqi government".
Ramsey Clark reported to the Security Council that most of the death “are from the effect of malnutrition including marasmus and kwashiorker, wasting or emaciation which has reached 12% of all children, stunted growth which affects 28%, diarrhoea, dehydration from bad water or food, which is ordinarily easily controlled and cured, common communicable diseases preventable by vaccinations, and epidemic from deteriorating sanitary conditions. There are no deaths crueller than these. They are suffering slowly, helplessly, without simple remedial medication, without simple sedation to relieve pain, without mercy”
... In the meantime, the UN has sought to negotiate an oil-for-food arrangement, by which Iraq would be allowed to sell $1 billion’s worth of oil every three months on the world market. Half of this would go in war reparations to Kuwait and be allocated to Kurds in the “safe havens”; the other half would be food and medicine and basic spare parts for water and sewage treatment facilities. The American representatives on the UN Sanctions Committee have used every opportunity to obstruct the plan which now appears frozen in spite of having the approval of the Secretary-General.
... The US blames Saddam Hussein and Iraq for the effects [on the Iraqi people], most recently arguing that if Saddam stopped spending billions on his military machine and palaces for the elite, he could afford to feed his people. But only a fool would offer or believe such propaganda. If Iraq is spending billions on the military, then the sanctions obviously are not working. Malnutrition didn’t exist in Iraq before the sanctions.
... They [victims] become, wrote Mark Curits, unpeople: human beings who impede the pursuit of high policy and whose rights, often lives, therefore become irrelevant.
The siege of Iraq and many more victims who paid the price for the Western policies after the above notes were published, did not bring Iraq democracy. It ended in a devastating conflict, many more victims, a divided nation and a broken country. We must understand that not every sanction is there to help our people.
There are different sides involved in this dirty game of power and conflicts in Iran. On one side we have the US and the Europeans who would like to secure Iran’s wealth and resources for their own economies. On the other side, there are IRI, Russia and China who eye the same resources. Iranian people do not matter to either side and are treated as collateral. The sanctions are to weaken the other side without any concern for their effects on Iranians. We must take the side of the Iranian people and be their voice.
Not all sanctions are good and not all are bad. In my view any sanction that weakens the regime and strengthens the people is a good sanction. Travel ban on members of the ruling Mafia, arms embargo and freezing of the regime assets abroad are examples of sanctions that weaken the regime without a huge adverse effect on people. I reluctantly support the oil embargo as the Iranian regime has left no other option for change in its dictatorial rule. Oil embargo also weaken the regime and make it more dependent on people whilst making the wealth of more than 4 millions Iranian diaspora even more attractive for the regime, affording the people more opportunity to enforce change. On the other hand, sanctions such as restrictions on food and medicine supplies will weaken the people and strengthen a government that control such resources.
Whilst we wish to think that the induced hardship would cause the people to overthrow the ruling regime, it is more likely that it causes rivalry and competition between people for the scarce resources and for their immediate survival.
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