US UNVEILS NEW IRAN SANCTIONS TARGETING ARMS SALES
By Donnelly McCleland and Dr Daniel Shayesteh
The US has imposed new sanctions on Iran after other powers rejected its demand to reinstate UN measures that were lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal. US President Donald Trump issued an executive order that opens up foreign governments and companies to economic penalties if they sell weapons to Iran. He also announced sanctions against two dozen entities and people involved in Iran’s nuclear, missile and conventional arms-related activities. Iran said they would have no effect. (BBC News)
Sanctions and Middle East peace plan
US officials have linked the latest crackdown on Iran to the diplomatic ‘normalisation accords’ between Israel and the Arab states Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the accords, signed last week, “a great step forward toward peace in the Middle East.” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has played down the accords, calling them an election-year “show,” given that Israel has had lower-level relations with the Emirates and Bahrain for years.
The reinstated sanctions target Iranian individuals and entities connected to Tehran’s nuclear enrichment or ballistic missile programmes. They also aim for another Trump administration target, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who they accuse of trying to buy or sell weapons with Iran. The sanctions include freezes on any assets those targeted may have within US jurisdiction, bar Americans from doing business with them and, open up foreign governments, companies, and individuals to US penalties if they engage in transactions with them.
The US reinstatement of sanctions defies nearly all UN members, including US allies in Europe, who have rejected the US’s legal claim to impose the international sanctions. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, stated emphatically: “As we have in the past, we will stand alone to protect peace and security at all times. We don’t need a cheering section to validate our moral compass.”
FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
Christian apologist and evangelist, Dr Daniel Shayesteh, offers his insights: “There is no doubt that Mr Trump’s Middle East peace plan has made the leadership in Iran extremely angry and more vulnerable. The plan for the destruction of Israel is the ‘life-blood’ of radical Muslims and of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This was also the case for Arabic countries for decades, since the rise of Israel as a country. But Arab countries’ foreign policy is changing as they attempt to shift from oil-driven economies to service and manufacturing economies. The latter economic system necessitates a free-market leadership tolerance. As a result, Arab leaders are becoming creative and adapting to a less traditionally Islamic style of leadership. This has isolated Iran with its rigid leadership style and its doctrine of destroying Israel. There is also a shift in worldview among Iranian citizens who are beginning to believe that the hatred of Israel was nothing more than a ploy by the ayatollahs to hold onto power. As a result, the ayatollahs in Iran are finding themselves isolated and vulnerable from every side.
The peace (‘normalisation’) accords between Israel and Arabic countries will also marginalise some of Russia and China’s markets since these two countries have supported Iran at the expense of Persian Gulf Arab countries. One way for Russia and China to survive their economic downturn is a war between Iran and America, like what happened in Syria, so that these two countries can survive, to some extent, by supplying Iran’s war. Iran has also learned from Syria that its friendship with Russia and China has helped it survive, no matter how powerful the external and internal forces. For this reason, Iran does not mind being the ‘tool’ in the hands of these two countries for the sake of its survival. That is why Iran has become very vocal lately regarding war (or retaliation) against America.
However, Mr Trump has seemingly learned from the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, that the only way to squeeze the leadership in Iran is via an economic war, rather than a military one. The Gulf countries have also learned from the war in Yemen which has bolstered Iran’s power over neighbouring countries. For this reason, the Arab countries are cooperating with Mr Trump’s economic plan, to improve their likelihood of a foreign policy victory over Iran.
The scenario could change a bit if Mr Trump is unable to stay in the White House for another four years. But, Mr Trump has already advanced the Middle East peace plan, and it is, therefore, hard to think that Joe Biden, or any other Democrat, would be able to overturn this peace plan, which aims to strengthen the economies of participating Arab nations. The Arab nations have exhibited a desire to learn from Israel on how to turn their desert lands into productive lands. Even if the Democrats win, it is unlikely that they will fight against allies of Saudi Arabia, who have demonstrated a desire for peace with Israel. It would be a tremendous challenge for the Democrats to keep harmony between two opposing enemies, Iran on one hand and Israel-Arabs on the other hand. They will have no choice but to concede to Mr Trump’s foreign policy.
I am convinced that no foreign policy in Iran will be able to stop Iranians from leaving Islam. Many Iranians do not see the ayatollahs as the major problem anymore, but Islam. For this reason, they are becoming increasingly disillusioned with Islam and leaving it. Of course, the pressure on Christians is not going to decrease while the mullahs are in power. But even as they try to exert their power, they are unable to restrain Iranians from following Jesus Christ. Iranian coverts, either in ‘underground’ churches in Iran or those who are free in the West, are amazingly vocal and logical in their evangelism. This is gradually crushing Islam in Iran.”
Please pray with us:
- For the effective implementation of peace-making efforts
- For the continued turning of Iranians to Christ
- For Iranian believers to share their faith boldly among family members and friends as external and internal pressures increase