Page from Iraq playbook: US invokes WMDs to pile ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions on Iran
is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Telegram @TheNebulator and on Twitter @NebojsaMalic
On Wednesday, the US Treasury Department expanded sanctions against Mahan Air, Iran’s largest privately-owned airline, citing a 2005 executive order by then-President George W. Bush targeting “weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters.”Also on rt.com Washington expands sanctions against Iran's largest airline, accusing it of weapons of mass destruction proliferation
Mind you, nowhere in the sanctions announcement does Treasury say that Mahan actually transported WMDs. Instead, the airline is accused of flying personnel and weapons for Iran’s “terrorist and militant groups” and thereby “directly contributing” to conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Meanwhile, the US is sending weapons to “moderate” jihadist terrorists in Syria, and arming and refueling Saudi Arabian and allied forces that have been bombing Yemen to the stone age since 2015. This is never mentioned, of course. Nor is anyone allowed to sanction Washington for any of this, as sanctions only go in one direction.
The point of the sanctions is to scare anyone away from doing any business with the blacklisted companies or individuals. Imagine being sued by the US for violating sanctions against “WMD proliferators” over fulfilling a catering contract, selling airplane parts, or providing ticketing services. It may sound nonsensical, but there you have it.Also on rt.com Russia suspends research project at Iranian nuclear site after Tehran resumes uranium enrichment in response to US pressure
The State Department has basically admitted to deliberately using the WMD classification to make Iranian companies radioactive to potential business partners.
“Our ability to work with partners overseas to deny Iranian shippers access to ports, or prevent transactions, much more diplomatically persuasive when able to identify WMD or missile proliferation as the gravamen of the complaint,” is how Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, explained it to Financial Times.
SANCTIONS ALERT: US hits Iran’s biggest airline and shipping group with sanctions. Big deal to hit IRISL with WMD designation. This is essentially the CBI designation for Iranian shipping. https://t.co/H2pjcUJ8KB— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) December 11, 2019
That the Trump administration is using the WMD gambit against Iran is particularly ironic, given that demonstrably false accusations about WMDs were used by Bush to invade the neighboring Iraq in 2003, setting off a chain of events that claimed tens of thousands of lives and gave birth to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). Donald Trump has long been critical of the Iraq War, and specifically the false WMD charges, only to apparently not mind when the same playbook is used against Iran.
What evidence does the US have for Mahan actually proliferating any WMDs? Funny you should ask. US sanctions designations require no pesky evidence, or due process; they are basically imposed and lifted on the sole discretion of Treasury, without any possibility of appeal or redress. That’s a mighty convenient way to bypass the burden or proof.Also on rt.com Iran unveils budget plan to fend off US sanctions by cutting dependence on oil
Officially, the sanctions are all about US solidarity with the “Iranian people,” as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo puts it, and punishing the government in Tehran for funding “terrorism” instead of spending money on social programs. It’s a tempting narrative, to be sure – yet no different from the claims of neoconservative hawks in 2003 that US troops will be greeted in Iraq with flowers, like liberators. Except they were met with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) instead.
Again, it is particularly ironic that all of this is happening on Trump’s watch and with his apparent blessing, even as the neoconservatives and Democrats have joined forces in trying to get him impeached. In Washington, it seems, the Swamp always wins.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.