It is yet to be clarified who is responsible for the sabotage of the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, but it is clear that the Trump administration has been sabotaging Iranian oil shipments since May 2. On that day, she announced her intention to “reduce Iranian oil exports to zero, thereby reducing the regime’s main source of income.” This measure is intended to affect China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey; they all buy Iranian oil and now face US financial terrorism.
Iran is not the only country suffering from US economic terrorism. The Trump administration is carrying out a gigantic oil grab by seized Venezuelan oil assets worth USD 7 billion, thus preventing Maduro’s government from getting its own money.
According to John Bolton, the sanctions on oil exports in 2019 will amount to USD 11 billion. The Trump administration is also threatening shipping companies that transport Venezuelan oil. Two companies , one from Liberia and one from Greece , have already been fined for transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba. There are no gaping holes in their ships, but it is still economic sabotage.
Whether in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, or one of the 20 countries under the thumb of U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration is just using its economic power to bring about regime changes or major political changes in countries around the world.
US sanctions against Iran are brutal. To be sure, they have not succeeded in enforcing US regime-change targets, but they have caused growing global tensions with US trading partners and caused terrible suffering to ordinary people in Iran. Food and medicines are theoretically exempt from sanctions.
Nevertheless, US sanctions make it virtually impossible for Iranian banks such as Parsian Bank, Iran’s largest non-governmental bank, to make payments for imported goods – and these include food and medicine.
The resulting shortage of medicines will cause thousands of preventable deaths in Iran, and the victims will be ordinary working people — not ayatollahs or members of the government.
The US corporate media has been involved in the hypocrisy that US sanctions are a non-violent tool that puts pressure on targeted governments to force some kind of democratic regime change. Rarely does US reports mention the deadly consequences for ordinary people — and the economic crisis that has arisen is instead blamed solely on the governments concerned.
The deadly consequences of sanctions are all too clear in Venezuela, where crippling economic sanctions have weakened an economy already struggling with the fall in oil prices, opposition sabotage, corruption and poor governance. had to fight.
A joint annual report by three Venezuelan universities finds that U.S. sanctions have been blamed for at least 40,000 additional deaths this year. Venezuela’s pharmaceutical association reported an 85 percent shortage of essential drugs in 2018.
The report of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington is summarised as follows:
This paper looks at some of the key consequences of the economic sanctions that the US has imposed on Venezuela since August 2017. It was found that it was not the government that had to bear most of the impact, but the civilian population.
The sanctions reduced the calorie intake of the population and increased the number of illnesses and deaths in both adults and children. They also uprooted millions of Venezuelans who fled the country because of deteriorating economic depression and hyperinflation. The sanctions exacerbated the Venezuelan economic crisis and made it almost impossible to stabilize the economy causing more avoidable deaths. All these consequences caused disproportionate damage to the poorest and most defenceless Venezuelans.
Even worse and more destructive than the broad economic sanctions of August 2017 were the sanctions imposed on January 28, 2019 and later on several occasions at the president’s order, and the recognition of a parallel government created a whole A series of new financial and trade sanctions that are even more restrictive than the president’s orders himself.
We note that the sanctions have caused and still are causing very serious damage to human life and health, including the estimated more than 40,000 deaths between 2017 and 2018. We also believe that the sanctions are in line with the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population, as described in both the Geneva convention and the Hague Convention, both of which were signed by the United States. They also violate international law and international agreements, which have also been signed by the United States, and they also appear to be violating US law.
Without U.S. sanctions, the resurgence in global oil prices in 2018 would have led to at least a small boost to Venezuela’s economy and adequate imports of food and medicine. Instead, U.S. financial sanctions prevented Venezuela’s debt from being refinanced and deprived the oil industry of cash for components, repairs, and new investments, resulting in a more dramatic drop in oil production than in previous ones. years of low oil prices and economic depression.
The oil industry is responsible for 95 percent of Venezuela’s foreign revenues by strangling its oil industry and cutting off Venezuela from international loans, the sanctions have predicted and deliberately turned the Venezuelan people into a deadly one. economic downward spiral.
The study “Sanctions as Collective Punishment: the Case of Venezuela” by Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot for the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that the combination of US sanctions in 2017 and 2019 in Venezuela is expected to lead to a decline in the Real gross domestic product of a striking 37.4 percent, following a 16.7 percent drop in 2018 and a drop in oil prices of more than 60 percent from 2012 to 2016.
In North Korea, which has a population of 25 million, several decades of sanctions have led to malnutrition and impoverishment of millions of people, in addition to prolonged droughts. Rural areas in particular lack medicines and clean water. Even tougher sanctions imposed in 2018 banned most of North Korea’s exports and limited the government’s ability to import food to alleviate the shortage.
One of the most outrageous elements of US sanctions is their extraterritorial reach. The US is slain by third-country companies for “violations” of US sanctions. When the US unilaterally terminated the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions, the US Treasury boasted that in just one day, November 5, 2018, more than 700 individuals, legal entities, aircraft and ships were charged with doing business with Iran. sanctioned.
Reuters reported that in March 2019, the U.S. State Department ordered “oil trading houses and refineries around the world” to further restrict their trade with Venezuela. If not, sanctions could be expected even if the trade had not been prohibited by published US sanctions.”
Arbitrary and hypocrisy
A source in the oil industry told Reuters: “This is how the US works today. They have established rules, and then they open up to you that there are also unwritten rules that you should obey according to their will.”
U.S. officials say the sanctions will help citizens of Venezuela and Iran by urging them to rebel and overthrow their governments. The use of military force, coups, and covert operations to overthrow foreign governments has had catastrophic consequences in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen. Therefore, the idea of using the dominant position of the US and the dollar in international financial markets as a kind of “soft force” to the goal of a “regime change” may seem to US political policymakers as a coercive means of war-weary U.S. public and suspicious allies.
However, a shift from the shock method of airstrikes and military occupation to “silent killers” in the form of preventable diseases, malnutrition and extreme poverty is anything but a humanitarian option and is not a major option under international humanitarian law. more legitimate than the use of military force.
Denis Halliday was a deputy UN Secretary-General who worked as a humanitarian coordinator in Iraq and left the UN in protest at the brutal sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1998.
“Comprehensive sanctions, when imposed by the UN Security Council or by a state against a sovereign country, are a form of warfare, a blunt weapon that inevitably punishes innocent citizens,” Danis Halliday told us. “If they are deliberately extended, even though their deadly consequences are known, sanctions can be considered genocide. When U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 1996 that the effort to bring down Saddam Hussein “was worth it,” the continuation of U.N. sanctions against Iraq was “worth it.” definition of genocide.”
Two UN Special Rapporteurs appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council are now serious independent authorities regarding the consequences and illegality of US sanctions against Venezuela — and their conclusions apply equally to Iran. Alfred de Zayas visited Venezuela shortly after the introduction of US financial sanctions in 2017 and wrote a detailed report on what was found there. He discovered significant repercussions due to Venezuela’s long-term dependence on oil, poor governance and corruption, but also strongly condemned US sanctions and the US “economic war.”
“Today’s economic sanctions and blockades are comparable to the medieval siege of cities,” de Zayas wrote. “21st century sanctions are trying not only to bring a city, but whole sovereign countries to their knees.” De Zayas’ opinion recommended that the International Criminal Court investigate US sanctions against Venezuela as a crime against humanity.
A second UN special rapporteur, Idriss Jazairy, issued a powerful statement in January on the occasion of the failed US-backed coup in Venezuela. He condemned the “exercise of coercion” by foreign powers as a “violation of any norm of international law.” “Sanctions that lead to starvation and drug shortages are not a response to the crisis in Venezuela,” Jazairy said, adding: “(…) to create an economic and humanitarian crisis (…) is not a basis for peaceful mediation of conflicts.”
The Charter of the Organization of American States
Sanctions also constitute a violation of Article 19 of the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), which explicitly prohibits any interference “in the internal or external affairs of a state, for whatever reason.” It goes on to state that Article 19 prohibits ‘not only armed violence, but any form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of a State or against its political, economic and cultural elements’.
Article 20 of the OAS Charter is equally relevant: “No State shall apply or encourage economic or political coercive measures in order to impose coercion on the sovereign will of another State or thereby obtain advantages of any kind.”
As far as U.S. law is concerned, the sanctions of 2017 and 2019 are based on unfounded statements by the president that the situation in Venezuela has created a so-called “national emergency” in the US. If the US federal courts were not so afraid of holding the executive branch accountable for foreign policy matters, this statement could be challenged by a federal court and likely to be dismissed faster and easier than the like Case of a “national emergency” on the border with Mexico, at least geographically linked to the US.
There is an even more substantial reason for saving the people of Iran, Venezuela, and other targeted states from the deadly and illegal effects of sanctions: they are not working.
Twenty years ago, when economic sanctions reduced Iraq’s gross domestic product by 48 percent over five years and serious studies documented the genocide-like human price (of these sanctions), they still failed to get the government to do so. Saddam Hussein’s. Two UN deputy secretaries-general, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, preferred to resign in protest from leading positions rather than enforce these murderous sanctions.
Robert Pape, then a professor at Dartmouth College, tried to answer the most basic questions about the use of economic sanctions in 1997 with the aim of enforcing policy changes in other countries. He did so by collecting and examining the historical data of 115 cases between 1914 and 1990 in which exactly this was attempted. In his study “Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work”, he concluded that sanctions had only succeeded in 5 out of 115 cases.
Pape also asked an important and provocative question: “Why do states still use economic sanctions when they rarely make an impact?” He suggested three possible answers:
“Decision-makers imposing sanctions systematically overestimate the prospects for the forced success of sanctions.”
“Leaders who consider the use of force as a last resort often assume that the prior impositions of sanctions enhance the credibility of subsequent military threats.”
“The implay of sanctions usually gives leaders greater domestic political advantages than the refusal to respond to the call for sanctions or the use of force.”
We think the answer is probably a combination of these reasons. However, we firmly believe that neither a combination of these nor any other justification can ever justify the human price of economic sanctions in Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela or anywhere else, equivalent to genocide.
Instead of condemning the recent attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, one should first admit a guilty one, should the global condemnation be directed at the country that is fighting for the deadly, illegal and ineffective economic war that this crisis has the United States of America, Germany, France and Great Britain and others are responsible!