Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/

Seyed Mohammad Marandi on the Iran Deal and the Assassination of Soleimani

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/01/2022 - 9:42am in

VIENNA – World leaders have descended upon Austrian capital Vienna to participate in the ongoing nuclear deal being negotiated primarily between the United States and Iran. Today, MintPress spoke to Dr. Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. Dr. Marandi is currently in Vienna as part of the Iranian delegation.

While corporate media often portray Iran as a recalcitrant pariah and the United States as a long-suffering broker in the situation, Dr. Marandi notes that it was actually the Trump administration that unilaterally walked away from the agreement. Furthermore, President Barack Obama refused to live up to his promise to remove financial sanctions against Iran. “Obama, from the very beginning, was violating the deal, the most important element of the deal, because the banking sector sanctions are the most important part of the deal,” Marandi told Mnar Adley today.

Relations between the two countries fell to a new low two years ago this month, after the Trump administration carried out a successful drone strike against General and statesman Qassem Soleimani. While then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that Soleimani was on the verge of carrying out an attack on Americans, the Iranian leader was, in fact, in Iraq on the invitation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Abdul-Mahdi specifically asked Trump for permission to invite Soleimani to his country. Trump acquiesced, then used the opportunity to kill him via a drone strike.

In response, the Iraqi parliament passed a unanimous resolution on January 5 (with many abstentions), calling for the expulsion of all U.S. troops. Instead, the U.S. announced it would build a number of new bases on the Iranian border, ramping up the tensions. Since then, Washington has continued to pile on the pressure, increasing its deadly sanctions regime against the country.

Soleimani’s assassination was not a purely American affair. Just weeks previously, he had survived an Israeli attempt on his life. Later that year, Israel would also successfully assassinate top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Dr. Marandi and MintPress today discussed how the United States and Israel often collaborate to further  their shared interests in Western Asia.

Soleimani was best known and celebrated outside of Iran for leading the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, successfully crippling their forces. The Financial Times described him as the “hero” who saved the region from Jihadists. Yet Western media largely sided with the U.S. after Trump’s decision to kill him. Suddenly, Soleimani was no longer a hero, but “the world’s no. 1 bad guy,” as CNBC put it. One reason for the shift in opinion in the U.S. was that Soleimani had impeded their attempts at regime change in Syria. As Marandi noted, emails published by WikiLeaks showed that the U.S. government was secretly working with Al-Qaeda to overthrow the Assad government, explaining:

When the dirty war in Syria began in 2011, the Iranians were not involved and, in fact, were advising the Syrian government to be careful, not to let civilians be killed and they were pushing the government to listen as much as possible to dissenting voices. But the Iranians also immediately recognized that there was a dirty war beginning … that Al-Qaeda was active in Syria.

The discussion also encompassed the sanctions placed on Iran by the United States and how Iran has partnered with Venezuela and other countries to help them neutralize the worst effects of economic warfare.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube and subscribe to rapper Lowkey’s new video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.

The post Seyed Mohammad Marandi on the Iran Deal and the Assassination of Soleimani appeared first on MintPress News.

Israel’s New Air Force Head Talks Scared and Tough on Iran: He Has Little Reason to be Either

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/01/2022 - 3:04am in

JERUSALEM – As 2021 came to a close, Israel had raised the so-called “Iran Threat” issue to a whole new level. Upon his promotion in December to Commander of the Israeli Air Force, General Tomer Bar was asked by the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot (Ynet), “Are you able to attack Iran tomorrow?” His answer was “Yes!” He was then asked, “Will you be able to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities?” His reply: “There is no scenario where we act over there, and I don’t return and say ‘mission accomplished.’”

In the summer of 2020, The Times of Israel reported that Israel had what it called a “Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate,” which focuses principally on “Israel’s fight against Iran.” The wording, “Israel’s fight against Iran,” is particularly apt: though more often than not it is described as “Iran’s fight against Israel,” it is, in fact, Israel that is a threat to Iran and not the other way around.

Returning to the interview with the Israeli Air-Force commander, it is as though Israel cannot wait for the opportunity to attack, and indeed, the Ynet reporter who interviewed General Bar was eager. “Bar,” the story continues, “who will be tasked with carrying out a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities should one be ordered, understands that he may be required to carry out one of the most complex operations in the country’s history.” Interesting choice of words, considering this possible mission is described as a complex, even daring mission rather than pure madness.

Tomer Bar

General Tomer Bar, commander of the Israeli Air-Force on the front page of the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot

Not leaving out any details, the interview with Bar continued, “I must assume that it might happen during my tenure, and I understand the magnitude of such an order… Preparations have been underway for a while, including procurement of the F-35 jets and missile defense systems.” If such an order is given, “there is no way that I will fly 1,000 kilometers and come home without succeeding in my mission.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, however, this might not be as simple as General Bar thinks. The U.S. has so far rejected an Israeli request to fast-track the delivery of two tanker aircraft, which are needed to allow the Israeli fighter jets to refuel on their way to Iran. If plans for a possible military option against Iran’s nuclear plan move forward, Israel will need these tankers. When asked about the U.S. refusal to expedite the sale of refueling aircraft despite Israel’s request, Bar said the matter has not been finalized and that he “remains hopeful the necessary aircraft would be supplied early.” One would think they were planning a party.


Iran under threat

Iran has been facing continuous threats of attack from Israel and the United States for far too long. With a population of close to 85 million and a record of not having invaded or initiated a war against another country, one is puzzled at the persistent anti-Iranian rhetoric in the United States and Israel. Furthermore, even if we consider Iran’s unrelenting support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice and the Iranian refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine, the Israeli threats seem unjustified. Iran’s positions, while obviously unwelcome to the Israeli government, have remained essentially unchanged and stable for decades and there is no threatening drumbeat coming from Tehran.

Since Iran has had to live under these ongoing threats of attack and has been the victim of crippling U.S. sanctions, it is no surprise that it has invested in building what seem to be impressive military capabilities. According to a report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA:

Iran has adapted its military capabilities and doctrine to account for developments by the United States and its allies. Although still technologically inferior to most of its competitors, the Iranian military has progressed substantially over the past few decades.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard

Iraniran troops march during a military parade marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war. Photo | AP

Furthermore, the report states:

Iran continues to rely on its unconventional warfare elements and asymmetric capabilities – intended to exploit the perceived weaknesses of a superior adversary – to provide deterrence and project power. This combination of lethal conventional capabilities and proxy forces poses a persistent threat.

The problem with this analysis is the idea that Iran is the one that poses a threat. On the contrary, Iran is the one under threat. Furthermore, at least one of the “proxy forces” the report refers to is Hezbollah, an organization created to respond to the brutal Israeli assaults against Lebanon and the consequent 20-year occupation of southern Lebanon.

Finally, the report points out that Iran has a “substantial arsenal of ballistic missiles” and that this arsenal is “designed to overwhelm U.S. forces and our partners in the region.” This is the most effective deterrent Iran has against an impending Israeli attack.


Iran versus Israel

Iran has over 80 million people with an official defense budget in 2019 of approximately $20.7 billion, or roughly 3.8% of GDP. Israel has a combined population of around 12 million, though fewer than half are actual citizens with rights, and has a defense budget of just under $19 billion. The debate over a possible war between Israel and Iran is a favorite among pundits. As a result, one can find a great deal of information comparing the sizes and capabilities of the two militaries.

A piece in Business Insider from August 2021 titled, “A shadowy fight between Israel and Iran is at risk of becoming a bigger war. Here’s how their militaries stack up,” is one of many such articles. It concludes that an allout war between the two countries is unlikely but we are likely to see more of the “shadowy” assaults like the attack on a vessel in the Arabian Sea, which was owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. In 2018 Newsweek published a piece called, “How Does Israel’s Military Compare to Iran?” The article claims that, while “Israeli military might is underscored by its top notch military-industrial complex, Iran’s military is aging and sub-par.” Still, Newsweek admits, “[b]oth nations have considerable military clout, and any prolonged confrontation between them would be bloody.”

One would do well to remember that, with all the admiration for Israeli military capabilities and technological superiority, Israel has never fought a war against a disciplined, well-trained, well-equipped, highly motivated military force.

Protesters wave Palestinians flags in front of Israeli solders on Gaza's border with Israel, east of Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. A leading Israel human rights group urged Israeli forces in a rare step Wednesday to disobey open-fire orders unless Gaza protesters pose an imminent threat to soldiers' lives. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Despite the IDF’s superior military might, most of Israel’s battlefield experience comes from facing off with unarmed protesters. Photo | AP

Israel did attack its neighboring countries and destroy their militaries several times, but then it retreated to the safety of its borders. Iran is not such a proximate neighbor and, should Israel need to deploy forces, something it never had to do in the past; it would be a logistical nightmare. Even assuming Israel would rely only on its air force, Iran is a large country, and it is a long flight to Iran and back. Logistically, this would demand an enormous effort by Israel while the Iranians would have to do nothing but wait and then use their air defenses and long-range missiles. Furthermore, should a war take place on Iranian soil, there is no military force large, effective or motivated enough to defeat Iran.

Israel’s last face-to-face encounter with a well-disciplined and motivated fighting force was in 2006 in Lebanon. Israeli ground forces encountered Hezbollah fighters, and things did not go well for the Israelis, who were forced to retreat in humiliation. Israeli officers who participated in that assault against Lebanon said there were serious logistical and intelligence flaws, and this was just a few short kilometers from their home base. Imagine what would happen if they were thousands of miles from home.

As the new year begins, we should be thankful that the United States, having suffered two colossal military defeats in the last two decades — one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan — has no stomach or resources to attack a formidable country like Iran. Apart from that, it would be fair to say that two things prevent an all-out war between Israel and Iran. The first is that Israel knows that attacking Iran will end in a total Israeli defeat. The second is Iran’s exercise of discipline in the face of ongoing threats by both the U.S. and Israel.

Feature photo | Original photo by Tomer Bar | Editing by MintPress News

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Israel’s New Air Force Head Talks Scared and Tough on Iran: He Has Little Reason to be Either appeared first on MintPress News.

Meta Censors Anti-Imperialist Speech In Obedience To The US Government

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/01/2022 - 12:44pm in

Listen to a reading of this article:

Anti-imperialist commentator Richard Medhurst reports that Instagram has deleted some 20 images from his account and given him a warning that he could face a permanent ban if he continues making similar posts. The posts in question are screenshots from a Twitter thread Medhurst made to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s assassination of renowned Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani.

Go ahead and read the thread; here’s the hyperlink again. There’s nothing in there that comes anywhere remotely close to violating Instagram’s terms of service as they are written; Medhurst condemns the assassination and the bogus justifications provided for it, and discusses Soleimani’s crucial role in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda. The reason for Instagram’s censorship of Medhurst’s political speech is that Instagram’s parent company Meta (then called Facebook) determined after Soleimani’s assassination that anything which seems supportive of him constitutes a violation of US sanctions and must therefore be removed.

In 2019 the Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which was as hypocritical and arbitrary as any other government designating any other branch of another government’s military a terrorist organization. Despite this completely baseless designation, both the Meta-owned social media platforms Facebook and Instagram have been actively censoring political speech about Soleimani, who was the commander of the IRGC’s Quds force when he was assassinated. Medhurst reports that he has been censored on Instagram under the same justification for posting about Hamas as well.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height);resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.location && window.location.hash === "#amp=1" && window.parent && window.parent.postMessage) {window.parent.postMessage({sentinel: "amp", type: "embed-size", height: height}, "*");}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}'rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();});'resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

We don’t talk enough about how completely insane it is that a social media company with billions of users is censoring worldwide political speech about a major historical figure in alignment with US government decrees. Even if you were to accept the ridiculous justifications for designating a branch of the Iranian military a terrorist organization, and even if you were to accept it as perfectly sane and normal for a communications company of unprecedented influence to take its marching orders on censorship from US government dictates, Soleimani is dead. He’s a dead man, he could not possibly pose any threat to anybody, and yet they’re censoring people from voicing opinions about his assassination.

I think I’ve been failing to appreciate the madness of this situation over the last two years because it’s simply too crazy to take in all at once. You have to really sit with it a minute and let it absorb. This is a person who shaped the world, whose impact on human civilization will be studied for generations. And the largest social media company on earth is actively censoring discussion about him because the US government said it’s not allowed.

Whenever I talk about the dangers of online censorship I always get a bunch of propagandized automatons bleating “It’s not censorship! Censorship is when the government restricts freedom of speech; this is just a private company enforcing its terms of service!”

This line of argumentation is plainly born of sloppy analysis. All the largest online platforms have been working in conjunction with the US government to censor speech, and doing so with greater and greater degrees of intimacy. A monopolistic Silicon Valley megacorporation censoring political speech about an important historical figure because the US government says he was a terrorist is about as brazen an act of government censorship as you could possibly come up with. The fact that that censorship is outsourced to a putatively private company is irrelevant.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

function notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height);resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.location && window.location.hash === "#amp=1" && window.parent && window.parent.postMessage) {window.parent.postMessage({sentinel: "amp", type: "embed-size", height: height}, "*");}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}'rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();});'resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}

The outsourcing of censorship to private corporations is just one more iteration of the way neoliberalism privatizes duties that would otherwise be done by the government. That’s all we’re seeing here. In a corporatist system of government, corporate censorship is government censorship.

The US government is the single most tyrannical and oppressive regime on this planet. It terrorizes entire populations and works to destroy any nation which disobeys its dictates, it has spent the 21st century slaughtering people by the millions to preserve its unipolar domination of the planet, it imprisons and tortures journalists for exposing its war crimes, and it aggressively censors political speech around the world.

Every evil the US accuses other nations of perpetrating, it does on a far grander scale itself. It just does it under the pretence of promoting freedom and democracy and fighting terrorism, under cover of outsourcing and narrative management. It inflicts the most psychopathic acts of violence upon human beings around the world, but wraps it in a package of justice and righteousness. The US government is a blood-spattered serial killer wearing a plastic smiley face mask.


My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.

KEI letter to Brian Nelson, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, regarding exceptions to sanctions for medical products

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/12/2021 - 3:27am in

KEI is sending this letter to the Administration today, regarding measures we would like to see undertaken to make the humanitarian exceptions to sanctions work better.  This is a neglected area of policy failure, although there is evidence that the Biden administration is both fixing some issues and open to more reforms.


December 8, 2021

Brian Nelson
Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20220

Re: Request for meeting to discuss sanction exceptions for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.

Dear Under Secretary Nelson,

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) is a non-profit organization with offices in Washington, DC and Geneva, Switzerland. Among our activities are efforts to make access to medical technologies more equal. Our organization and body of work is described in extensive detail at, and

KEI is concerned that U.S. trade sanctions have created barriers to the development of COVID-19 vaccines and access to a broader set of vaccines and drugs. This letter provides some context, and concludes with a request for a meeting to discuss efforts to make the U.S. sanctions program humanitarian exceptions for medicines and vaccines work better.

Cuba. On July 1, 2021, we sent a Memorandum to Gayle E. Smith (State), Eric Lander (OSTP), Loyce Pace (HHS) and Samantha Power (USAID) asking the U.S. government to clarify that its sanctions against Cuba do not extend to activities and agreements related to the development, manufacturing, distribution and sale of its COVID-19 vaccines. The Cuban vaccine program, which seems quite important, has faced barriers as a number of businesses and nonprofit organizations have been reluctant to work with the Cuban vaccine program, because of the U.S. sanctions. Cuba has an advanced and well regarded capacity to develop and manufacture vaccines, and in the past has worked with third parties to sell FDA approved vaccines in the United States. Cuba is working on several vaccine candidates, including a three dose recombinant protein subunit vaccine named Soberana (which has reported a 92.4 percent efficacy), Soberana Plus (based on the RBD protein alone, being tested as a vaccine booster), as well as other candidates. The Cuban vaccines are using technology that has a favorable safety profile and works with modest cold chain storage (see: Sara Reardon, “Cuba’s bet on home-grown COVID vaccines is paying off”, Nature, November 22, 2021). The sanctions have made it difficult to scale the manufacturing and distribution of the Cuban vaccines.

Iran. We subsequently were in contact with Vaxine, a company in Australia founded by Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor of medicine at Flinders University. The Australian company has worked with CinnaGen, a company in Iran, to undertake clinical trials of Vaxine’s recombinant protein subunit vaccine for COVID-19. The affiliation with the Iranian company may have led to delisting of stock exchange offering and losing funding, among other things. More recently, KEI has been approached by an Iranian student and a U.S. NGO working on U.S.-Iran relations, both describing the broader impact in Iran of the sanctions on access to medicines, including off-patent generics and cancer treatments. We have also reviewed the academic commentary on the negative impact of the sanctions on access to medicine in Iran (including: Setayesh, S., Mackey, T.K. “Addressing the impact of economic sanctions on Iranian drug shortages in the joint comprehensive plan of action: promoting access to medicines and health diplomacy.” Global Health 12, 31 (2016).

Venezuela. Venezuela has registered a number of complaints that sanctions have made it difficult to obtain medical products. For example, one recent report describes delays in deliveries of syringes and vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and yellow fever, when $12.7 million in funds to purchase the products were frozen by the Portuguese bank Novo Banco. This case also involved the Pan American Health Organization (see: Cole Stranger, “U.S. Sanctions Blamed As Venezuela Laments Frozen Order For Medicine”, The Intercept, September 29, 2021).

North Korea. More recently, KEI was asked about the challenges in supplying COVID-19 vaccines or drugs to North Korea, leading us to examine the provisions in two Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) licenses to manufacture COVID-19 therapeutics.

MPP Licenses. The MPP is a respected non-profit organization operating from Geneva, Switzerland that negotiates voluntary licenses to use patented inventions and manufacturing know-how and rights in regulatory data for a variety of medical technologies, including drugs and diagnostic tests related to COVID-19, viral hepatitis (HCV and HBV), tuberculosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Historically the MPP has negotiated licenses that include a licensed territory of roughly 95 to 115 lower and middle income countries, representing more than half of the world’s population, as well as a collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) for global licenses for COVID-19 technologies. The MPP has recently announced licenses with Merck and Pfizer for COVID-19 therapeutics. Both licenses have a licensed territory consisting of LMICs where sales are authorized, and both authorize global manufacture with some restrictions. Among the restrictions are those relating to any operations involving the countries, persons, businesses or other entities that are the target of U.S. sanctions.

The Pfizer/MPP license. A license between the MPP and Pfizer for the COVID-19 combination drug PF-07321332+ritonavir has 45 mentions of sanctions. The sanction target countries are identified as including, without limitation, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria and the territory of Crimea. The license requires the MPP to comply with all applicable economic sanctions and export control laws in the performance of the agreement, including those administered by:

  • the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), and
  • the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”).

The MPP must receive permission from Pfizer before it can be involved with persons or entities that are the target of sanctions administered or enforced by:

  • the U.S. Government, including OFAC,
  • the governments of Switzerland,
  • the EU,
  • the United Kingdom, or
  • any country listed on any denied party lists maintained by OFAC, BIS or on the European Union’s Consolidated List of Persons, Groups and Entities Subject to EU Financial Sanctions.

The MPP is also required to obtain prior authorization, in the form of general licenses, specific licenses, and/or other authorizations, from OFAC and/or BIS, before any engagement with sanction targets.

The Merck/MPP license. The license between the MPP and Merck for the therapeutic molnupiravir has similar restrictions, and also makes reference to several OFAC licenses that appear to expire on June 16, 2022, less than one year from now.

  • Iran General License N,
  • Syria General License No. 21, and
  • Venezuela General License No. 39.
  • It is our impression that the U.S. sanctions program has both a legal impact, that includes importantly, the possible exceptions for drugs, vaccines and other medical supplies, and a practical impact, which is much larger.

    The larger impact is related to the uncertainty and costs of compliance with the U.S. sanction program, which are a significant deterrent for many businesses and other entities that would otherwise be working to make, supply or sell needed drugs, vaccines, equipment or inputs to making drugs or vaccines, or other related health products in the sanctioned countries. Moreover, entities that decide to face such risks and costs of compliance often supply sanctioned countries at prices that are higher than would be available if the sanctions were less risky and easier to navigate.

    KEI has also experienced first hand and heard from other non-governmental organizations that many charitable organizations have placed restrictions on grants that no money be spent in sanctioned countries, or in some cases, that the grant recipient simply has no operations at all in sanctioned countries, even if those activities are funded by other donors.

    We are aware that the January 21, 2021 National Security Memorandum 1, on the International COVID-⁠19 Response has called for an interagency review of sanction policies and practices. KEI requests a meeting with your office to discuss measures that can better clarify and simplify the sanctions program so that the humanitarian exceptions work better. These measures would include but not be limited to:

    • A web page relating to health care products with plain language guidance that clarifies the scope of sanctions that can be understood by persons who are not experts on the legal issues.
    • Expanded use of “white lists” for products that are not subject to sanctions.
    • A program of working with trusted organizations and businesses to fast track and facilitate the granting of required permissions.
    • Comfort letters to reassure third parties such as financial institutions that certain activities are not subject to sanctions.
    • Best practices for providing drugs, vaccines, and other related products and services within the humanitarian exceptions.


    James Love, Director
    Knowledge Ecology International
    110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 511, Washington, DC 20002,
    Cell: +1.202.361.3040

    Jeff Zients, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator;
    Loyce Pace, Director of the Office of Global Affairs within the United States Department of Health and Human Services;
    Erik Woodhouse, Deputy Assistant Secretary For Counter Threat Finance And Sanctions;
    Samantha Power, Administrator, United States Agency for International Development;
    Jeremy Pelter, Deputy Under Secretary for Industry and Security, Department of Commerce;
    Congressman Andrew Levin, US House of Representatives (MI-09).


    National Security Memorandum on United States Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-⁠19 Response and to Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness, January 21, 2021.

    (c) COVID-19 Sanctions Relief. The Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of HHS and the Administrator of USAID, shall promptly review existing United States and multilateral financial and economic sanctions to evaluate whether they are unduly hindering responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide recommendations to the President, through the APNSA and the COVID-19 Response Coordinator, for any changes in approach.


    Source: US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, “Sanctions Programs and Country Information”. Accessed December 8, 2021.

    Balkans-Related Sanctions
    ​Belarus Sanctions
    Burma-Related Sanctions
    Central African Republic Sanctions
    Chinese Military Companies Sanctions
    ​Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA)
    ​Counter Narcotics Trafficking Sanctions
    ​Counter Terrorism Sanctions
    ​Cuba Sanctions
    ​Cyber-Related Sanctions
    ​Democratic Republic of the Congo-Related Sanctions
    Ethiopia-Related Sanctions
    ​Foreign Interference in a United States Election Sanctions
    ​Global Magnitsky Sanctions
    Hong Kong-Related Sanctions
    ​Iran Sanctions
    ​Iraq-Related Sanctions
    ​Lebanon-Related Sanctions
    ​Libya Sanctions
    Magnitsky Sanctions
    Mali-Related Sanctions
    ​Nicaragua-Related Sanctions
    ​Non-Proliferation Sanctions
    ​North Korea Sanctions
    ​Rough Diamond Trade Controls
    Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions
    ​Somalia Sanctions
    ​Sudan and Darfur Sanctions
    ​South Sudan-Related Sanctions
    ​Syria Sanctions
    Syria-Related Sanctions
    ​Transnational Criminal Organizations
    ​Ukraine-/Russia-Related Sanctions
    ​Venezuela-Related Sanctions
    ​Yemen-Related Sanctions
    ​Zimbabwe Sanctions

    The post KEI letter to Brian Nelson, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, regarding exceptions to sanctions for medical products appeared first on Knowledge Ecology International.

    Letter From a Striking Oil Worker in Iran

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 11:19pm in


    Iran, strikes

    image/jpeg iconoil-workers-assembly.jpg

    Below is a brief note from a striking worker, Mahmoud from Assaluyeh. Not only is it a good illustration of how the leading strikers in Iran today are thinking and how their discussions are shaping up, it also gives us an insight into the potential of the working class movement when we see how far the workers have advanced. It is a window into the future, showing what could be created, not only throughout Iran but also beyond.

    read more

    ‘Nazanin’s Story Shames This Country’: Boris Johnson’s Apathy Continues Towards Zaghari-Ratcliffe

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 2:27am in

    ‘Nazanin’s Story Shames This Country’Boris Johnson’s Apathy Continues Towards Zaghari-Ratcliffe

    Stephen Delahunty evaluates the Government’s current approach to Iran, the debt owed to the country, and the plight of the imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe


    Shouts of “shame” rang out around Westminster Hall in Parliament yesterday as a statement was read out on behalf of Richard Ratcliffe – claiming that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had walked past and ignored him during his 21-day hunger strike.

    The husband of Iranian-British dual-national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ended his protest at the Government’s inaction in his wife’s case after three weeks spent camped outside the Foreign Office without food. He described Johnson’s absence as “telling”.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since April 2016. In September of that year, she was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of “plotting to topple the Iranian Government”. She was accused by the country of running an “online journalism course which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran”.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said that she was in Tehran on holiday and not to train journalists. However, in 2017, then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson mistakenly said of her case: “She was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it, at the very limit.” He later apologised for the remark.

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband is calling on the UK Government to pay a £400 million debt to Tehran that is owed as part of a deal that was struck with its former close ally, the Shah of Iran, in the 1970s. It is a payment which British ministers have already acknowledged is owed in letters to the lawyers of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

    It is largely accepted that the non-payment of the debt has contributed to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s continued detention. Her local MP, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, has described it as the “elephant in the room”.

    During the parliamentary debate on the issue, there was clear cross-party support for the Government to pay the debt and secure Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release – in what one MP described as nothing short of “failed diplomacy”.

    Siddiq said that she was “increasingly frustrated” with the Government’s approach and that there was “no question about the fact that the debt is linked to Nazanin’s case”.

    Making A MockeryI Witnessed Boris Johnson’sCasual Attitude to Yemeni Lives

    Richard Ratcliffe went on hunger strike because he felt that he had no other option, Siddiq said. “He did it because he thinks the upper echelons of Government are not helping with his wife’s plight,” the Hampstead and Kilburn MP said. “I’m very disappointed to say that, in the three weeks that Richard was outside the Foreign Office starving himself, the Prime Minister of our country did not come to visit him.”

    A day before the debate, Siddiq described her “shock” at being warned by parliamentary clerks not to make reference in Parliament to the £400 million debt, for fear of prejudicing court proceedings. Despite having raised the issue multiple times before, Siddiq said that she has never been given this warning previously.

    “Why do Nazanin’s and the others’ lives matter so little that they can be left hostage for years over the Government’s debt?” Richard Ratcliffe said, in response. “Why is Parliament not allowed to ask the Government to explain? What really is the blockage here?”

    The clerks’ letter was issued despite peers discussing the debt for more than half an hour on Monday. They gasped as Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said that paying the debt would undoubtedly be seen as a hostage payment and something that would not be in the Government’s interests.

    Lord Goldsmith also repeatedly said that the debt was owed to pre-revolutionary Iran, suggesting that the Government may not believe that the debt was owed to the current regime. He was challenged to accept that the debt was a payment that the Government had been ordered to pay by an international court of arbitration.

    A Sixth Christmas Apart

    The Government’s unwillingness to pay the current regime is undoubtedly tied to the fact that the UK now considers Iran a threat, contrary to the historic ties of the two nations. The debt is owed from a deal struck with its close ally the Shah who was installed following a UK-US covert operation, known as ‘Boot’, in 1953. 

    The Shah ruled for a quarter of a century with the help of a notoriously brutal internal security service, SAVAK, which the UK helped to train. In the mid-1970s, the UK sold more than 1,500 Chieftain battle tanks worth £1.25 billion to its close ally. 

    Iran paid £600 million for the tanks in advance, but the UK’s arms sales export subsidiary, the International Military Services, refused to deliver the remaining weaponry when the Shah was deposed. Only 185 tanks had been delivered.

    Labour MP Dan Jarvis said during yesterday’s debate that the fate of Zaghari-Ratcliffe “should not be tied to geopolitics and to arms deals”, but declassified files suggest that the Government has a decades-long history of negotiating geo-politically risky deals with Iran.

    Indeed, it is clear then the UK Government negotiates with Iran when it suits its own interests and many MPs yesterday questioned when Johnson’s Government would start acting in the interest of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family. 

    Several MPs pressed Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly to outline what other options the Government has considered such as “translating that debt into humanitarian aid” to act as “a face saving mechanism”. 

    Cleverly would not go into details but expressed his concern for Zaghari-Ratcliffe and all detained British nationals in Iran and their families. “Their welfare remains a top priority for this Government,” he added.

    At the end of the debate, Siddiq read out a statement from Richard Ratcliffe – marking the 2,054th day of his wife’s detention. 

    “We are approaching our sixth Christmas apart. A little girl has been without her mother for five-and-a-half years now. It did not have to be like this,” it read.

    “The Prime Minister did not visit me on hunger strike, though he did pass me one day without coming over. His Government continues to put British citizens in harm’s way, Nazanin’s story shames this country.”




    Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.




    The post ‘Nazanin’s Story Shames This Country’: Boris Johnson’s Apathy Continues Towards Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeared first on Byline Times.

    The Struggle of the Iranian Oil Workers Goes On

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/11/2021 - 9:50am in


    Iran, Protests, strikes

    image/jpeg iconprotest-organising-council-20.jpg

    Following our last report on the Iranian oil workers' strike, when the strike had reached its 81st day (it started on 19 June 2021), on 12 September, the Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers issued statement no. 20, under the title of "What have been our achievements?", which we are publishing here. However, since then there have been reports that sections of striking workers are going back on strike.

    read more

    It’s Liz Truss’s moment to do the right thing | David Mitchell

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/11/2021 - 9:00pm in

    The foreign secretary has reached her peak, so she should stop playing the game and get Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe out of jail

    Continue reading...

    China-Iran Accords, the Silk Road and Some Other Imperialist Manoeuvres

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/10/2021 - 9:52pm in

    image/jpeg iconchina-iran.jpg

    Alongside other crises, the Covid pandemic is contributing to growing uncertainty in the capitalist world. Together with economic devastation, including an assault on the wages and conditions of the working class, proxy wars are multiplying and becoming more intense, with the threat of increasingly generalised wars on the horizon. In the meantime, the major imperialist powers, calculating the significance of these wars, are defining their tactical-strategic objectives in a kaleidoscope of oscillating alliances. They are as comfortable today in these economic and military pacts with yesterday’s enemies as if they had been allies all along.

    read more

    Iran: Oil Workers Reject Trade Unions

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/09/2021 - 9:27pm in


    Iran, Protests, strikes

    image/jpeg iconprotest-organising-council-19.jpg

    In the capitalist world, whatever the subject, it naturally only hits the headlines if the rulers of all factions are in control of it. If the news is about a war, climate change, economic downturn, regime change, elections, protests, immigration, in fact any issue where the working class as a class is absent, so it can be manipulated in a way that suits the ruling class, then not only is it covered by mass media, it also grabs the attention of “independent” media and journalists. They usually follow it up with tedious discussions, seminars, films and even more news.

    read more