President Trump Departs White House For Walter Reed
US President Donald Trump | Photo: Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg
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The Trump administration intends to block Iran’s application for a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund. Tehran claims it plans to spend the money on dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. But the U.S. has excellent grounds for rejection: It is confident a loan would make it easier for the regime to continue financing its vast network of terrorist groups and proxy militias across the Middle East. The U.S. says Iran has the funds to deal with the crisis, citing the billions of dollars in its sovereign-wealth fund; President Hassan Rouhani withdrew 1 billion euros from the fund for that purpose this week.

An American block on the loan application was expected, and senior regime figures have responded with spittle-flecked outrage at what they claim is the “crime against humanity.” Now, Rouhani is railing against what he sees as discrimination between nations, and reminding the international community of its “duties in this pandemic crisis.”

Rouhani is demanding that countries sympathetic to the Islamic Republic’s argument attempt an end-run around the American block at the IMF. Good luck with that. The U.S. accounts for slightly more than 16.5% of the IMF’s voting shares — an effective veto that Washington has jealously guarded against objections from other members.

It would take the combined clout of the European Union, China and Russia to persuade the rest of the world to stare down the Trump administration. But the U.S. is hardly alone. Trump can count on a solid phalanx of Arab states to back him. Some of these countries have sent Iran aid to fight the epidemic — and received grudging gratitude in return — but they will balk at giving Tehran access to $5 billion.

Iran’s behavior has not helped its cause. Despite the pandemic, it has not reduced support for sectarian groups and terrorist organizations; in places like Iraq, its proxy militias have stepped up their violence. This only strengthens the U.S. argument that, given access to IMF aid, the regime will funnel more money from its current spending on the epidemic toward such activities.


Also read: Judge Iran’s coronavirus crisis by the deeds of its rulers, not words


Nor has the Islamic Republic slowed its pursuit of nuclear technology since the virus began to infect tens of thousands of Iranians. Just last month, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog reported that Iran was obstructing efforts to clarify past nuclear activities. Remember, the regime is now threatening to quit the nonproliferation treaty if its actions are brought before the UN.

To complete the trifecta of pernicious behavior, the Iranians are apparently offering to release an American hostage, Michael White, in exchange for the $5 billion, a ransom demand that dwarves the previous record, set by the Islamic State for a group of 26 Qataris.

Even as it keeps up its menacing behavior toward its neighbors and the U.S., the regime is not yet demonstrating sufficient seriousness in dealing with the epidemic at home. From the Supreme Leader on down, top officials still maintain that the coronavirus is an American biological weapon.

Rouhani, who blithely claims that sanctions have not affected his government’s ability to deal with the crisis, says some business activity can resume next week, despite warnings from health officials that the danger is far from over. Iran’s parliament has reconvened, even as the infection is still spreading among its members — the speaker, Ali Larijani, is among the latest to be quarantined with the virus.

Nonetheless, the international community does have a responsibility to help Iranians caught up in the crisis. And that can, as I have argued, be done in a way without empowering the regime: by providing assistance in kind, not cash, under close supervision by the UN and World Health Organization.

If the likes of Khamenei and Rouhani balk at this, they should be reminded of their duty toward Iranians.


Also read: Give Iran help, not cash, to fight the virus


 

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9 Comments Share Your Views

9 COMMENTS

  1. According to author, Trump is right to block humanitarian funds to Iran but not wrong in supplying weapons to the incompetent Saudis to continue their blundering invasion and massacre of Yemenis. The Saudi invasion of Yemen has already led to the death of more than 112,000 plus people. Despite their advanced weapons, Ansarallah soldiers are thrashing them and their mercenaries. Hadi was a dictator who unilaterally decided to extend his two-year period of rule and hence overthrowing him was not illegal. So supporting a legitimate government is also not a valid action for their Saudi policy. So if Mr Bobby Ghosh is concerned about terrorism, he should first ask US to stop selling arms to terrorist Saudis

  2. There could be nothing more inhumane than hurting poor Iranian citizens at a time of pandemic. One is not even going into the merits of the US withdrawing from the patiently crafted Iran deal, which virtually ended the country’s quest for a nuclear weapon. That is the sort of diplomacy that wins a US President the Nobel Peace Prize. Compare that to the laughable deal of the century for the Palestinians.

    • Iran is worse. It is promoting terrorist groups all over Middle East. Like Pakistan, it wants to extend its strategic interest at the cost of their own people welfare.

      • Shia terrorists supported by Iran are opposed to Sunni/Deobandi/Wahabi terrorists like Al Qaeda supported by Pakistan (and USA?)

        All the blasts and terrorist attacks in India were committed by Sunni terrorists. Remember this before saying anything.

    • In logic- two negative statements does not make a positive statement. So before calling US no saint Iran will also has to introspect.

      • According to author, Trump is right to block humanitarian funds to Iran but not wrong in supplying weapons to the incompetent Saudis to continue their blundering invasion and massacre of Yemenis. The Saudi invasion of Yemen has already led to the death of more than 112,000 plus people. Despite their advanced weapons, Ansarallah soldiers are thrashing them and their mercenaries. Hadi was a dictator who unilaterally decided to extend his two-year period of rule and hence overthrowing him was not illegal. So supporting a legitimate government is also not a valid action for their Saudi policy. So if Mr Bobby Ghosh is concerned about terrorism, he should first ask US to stop selling arms to terrorist Saudis.

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