Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks at the final event for the Road to the Green New Deal Tour at Howard University in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Should the Iran sanctions end? At least during the coronavirus pandemic?
Some in Congress think so. Including a few or your favorites: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
On Tuesday, Omar tweeted the following:
“I led a letter with [AOC] and [Bernie Sanders] demanding this Administration end sanctions against Iran during the COVID-19 pandemic. These sanctions aren’t changing the behavior of the Iranian government, but directly punishing innocent civilians.”
These sanctions aren’t changing the behavior of the Iranian government, but directly punishing innocent civilians. https://t.co/odymQAN3cn
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) March 31, 2020
Alexandria also took Trump to task via Twitter, retweeting a a post from Huffpost Foreign Affairs Reporter Akbar Shahid Ahmed:
“@AOC @BernieSanders @IlhanMN @ewarren & co want to suspend sanctions on Iran that make it hard to import meds, PPE & respirators despite one of the world’s biggest COVID-19 outbreaks and Trump’s claims of having made enough humanitarian concessions.”
Exclu: @AOC @BernieSanders @IlhanMN @ewarren & co want to suspend sanctions on Iran that make it hard to import meds, PPE & respirators despite one of the world’s biggest COVID-19 outbreaks and Trump’s claims of having made enough humanitarian concessions.https://t.co/S42tATdyLX
— Akbar Shahid Ahmed (@AkbarSAhmed) March 31, 2020
Here’s Bern’s push for the pardon:
Coronavirus has killed 2,600 in Iran, but U.S. sanctions are obstructing medicine and aid from getting in.@SecPompeo and @stevenmnuchin1: Pandemics know no borders. Let us put aside our countries’ disputes and lift sanctions to reduce human suffering. https://t.co/fRFndKSP39
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 31, 2020
From the Huffpost article:
The congressional letter, shared with HuffPost ahead of its public release, is addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Notable signatories include Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
The letter asserts sanctions must stop in order to help people in America “and around the world”:
“Allowing this crisis to become more dire in Iran threatens significant harm not only to the people of Iran but also to people in the United States and around the world.”
When it comes to assistance during the pandemic, so far as friction with Iran is concerned, the letter favors a “problems, schmoblems” approach:
“Our many disputes with the government of Iran or others should not stand in the way of actions that can materially help innocent people weather a pandemic.”
As noted by The Daily Wire, the letter references the W. Bush White House’s eased sanctions following the 2003 earthquake — and its deliverance of aid — as precedent.
AOC and friends want relief for Iran in areas “including those impacting civilian industries, Iran’s banking sector and exports of oil.”
And it should last, they insist, “for at least as long as health experts believe the crisis will continue.”
As we’re talking about a virus which, so far as we know at the moment, may just be a sickness which exists in the world from now until forever, that could be a long time. Depending, of course, on how you define the “end” of the crisis.
Sound like a good idea?
As reported by The Independent, on Tuesday, Pompeo perhaps suggested an ease on sanctions was possible:
“We evaluate all of our policies constantly, so the answer is – would we ever rethink? – Of course. … The United States understands this is a humanitarian challenge, a humanitarian crisis, and we are deeply committed to ensuring that humanitarian assistance gets to the people of those countries. We care more often about the people in those countries than their own leaders do.”
He also made clear humanitarian and medical supplies were already exempt.
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