(TMU Op-Ed) — There has been a lot of media attention on Iran lately and most of that attention has focused on the recent activities in the Gulf, which have almost become a foreign policy scandal of sorts. For example, after Iran reportedly shot down a U.S. drone that was either traveling in Iranian airspace or very close to it, the Trump administration allegedly drew up a plan to strike Iran in response, only to have Trump pull the plug on the very last minute. By all accounts, this is a somewhat bogus notion, but we still cannot rule it out as a possibility.
Had the exchange of missiles taken place, it would have been one of the more newsworthy events of an already daily newsworthy administration run by Trump himself. And as the weeks go by, developments in the region continue to play out with no immediate end or means of diffusion or de-escalation currently in sight.
However, the real scandal of this whole crisis that we should be focused on, is the imposition of sanctions against Iran in contravention of the Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has continued to escalate ever since Trump formally reneged on the JCPOA last year. It should be a scandal not just because Iran was being certified as compliant with the terms of the JCPOA on a regular basis, but also because the aim of the sanctions is to strangle Iran’s government into collapsing.
This particular predicament was summarized brilliantly in a recent article in the Atlantic:
“This summer, tankers are exploding, disappearing, or getting seized near the Gulf; drones are getting destroyed in tit-for-tat attacks; and a war of words and tweets is erupting between Donald Trump and Iran’s supreme leader. That’s where all the drama is, but in fact most of America’s punitive actions against Iran are taking place in a world not physical but financial. Sanctions are the key tool the United States uses against what it sees as the Islamic Republic’s provocative behavior—especially for the past three presidential administrations running, and never more so than in this one.”
In the latter part of last year, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered a preliminary ruling in proceedings brought before it by Iran under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights whereby the ICJ essentially told the U.S. to lift sanctions on Iran which were linked to humanitarian goods and civil aviation. In its statement, the ICJ said that:
“The Court further considers that restrictions on the importation and purchase of goods required for humanitarian needs, such as foodstuffs and medicines, including life-saving medicines, treatment for chronic disease or preventive care, and medical equipment, may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.”
The U.S. responded by announcing it would pull out of the Treaty of Amity and the rest of the world barely blinked, even though it was becoming painfully obvious that Iranians were being killed by U.S. foreign policy simply due to being unable to receive basic medicines. Even now, the fact that the U.S. breached the JCPOA first and hit Iran as hard as it could with sanctions, even in light of a legally binding ICJ decision, barely passes a mention.
According to most reports, Iranian oil exports are down to 200,000 barrels a month, and this is likely to decrease further as the U.S. treasury finds new and more creative ways of attempting to cripple Iran’s economy. Just this week, the U.S. slapped sanctions on a major Chinese company for buying Iranian oil, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo openly acknowledged were “part of our maximum pressure campaign” on Iran.
And guess what—the maximum pressure is eventually going to work. In order to keep its economy afloat, most analysts say Iran needs to be exporting, at the very minimum, 600,000 barrels a month. As the U.S. continues to hit anyone and everyone left who may be even daring to import Iranian oil, Iran’s government may very well be looking at liquidation.
Let’s be honest, cryptocurrencies are not going to save Iran’s economy. The only real shot Iran has of not collapsing, is a successful mechanism set up by the E.U. which would help Iran bypass U.S. sanctions. Given the U.K. is helping to seize Iranian ships carrying oil with little to no comment from the E.U. at all—it would be foolish to put much hope in their hands to help diffuse this crisis and prevent yet another Middle Eastern country from toppling over and plunging into chaos.
The real scandal of the so-called “Iran crisis” is not that Trump may one day kill Iranians (or that Iranians may respond and kill U.S. or U.K. personnel)—it is that Trump is already killing more Iranians than we could hope to monitor through its draconian sanctions regime. Even an Israeli minister has openly bragged about how many Iranians Israel has killed in recent times—a perverse statement to which the rest of the world has shrugged its shoulders.
Sanctions are always a precursor to overt war. While the physical war has not begun for the ordinary American, Iran is already at war and under economic attack from the U.S. and its close allies, facing no less than a complete collapse of its economy. Diffusing and de-escalating the crisis taking place in the Strait of Hormuz should be a priority, of course, but would not even be necessary if we tackled the root cause of the current situation, which continues to spiral out of control quietly behind the scenes.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.