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Trump’s Iran Sanctions Face Seven Fallacies by Amir Taheri (Gatestone Inst.)

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July 7, 2019

  • …sanctions are working. The mullahs have started to reduce their footprint in Syria and Yemen… Offices in more than 30 Iranian cities, to enlist “volunteers” for “Jihad” in Syria, have been closed, and the recruitment of Afghan and Pakistani mercenaries has stopped. Tehran’s military and diplomatic presence in Yemen has been downsized, ostensibly for security reasons. Smuggling arms to Houthis continues albeit at a reduced rate.
  • Cash-flow problems caused by sanctions have also forced the mullahs to cut the stipends of proxies, notably the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian “Islamic Jihad” by around 10 percent with more cuts envisaged…. More importantly, perhaps, the mullahs have frozen their missile program at the current range of 2000 kilometers.
  • The seventh claim is that Trump’s sanctions strengthen hardline factions and weaken the “reformists” around President Hassan Rouhani. Since Rouhani and his associates have never said or even hinted, what it is they may want to reform, it is hard to speak of a “reformist” faction. Moreover, the extensive purge of the military currently undertaken by “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei does not seem to have affected any “moderates”.

As President Donald Trump tightens the screws on the current ruling elite in Tehran, the debate on the possible consequences of his policy rages on in American media, think tanks and political circles. Moreover, because Trump’s constituency is outside such elite spheres the impression created is that his Iran policy either has failed already or is set to produce undesirable unintended consequences.

In that context, seven claims form the main themes of the campaign launched by the pro-Tehran lobby with support from sections of the US Democrat Party and others who dislike Trump for different reasons. The first claim is that sanctions do not work.

That theme is developed without spelling out what the intended aims of sanctions are. Trump has said his aim is to persuade the Khomeinist clique in Tehran to change aspects of its behavior abroad. In that sense, sanctions are working.

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