By Pooya Stone
Donald Trump recently imposed sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, foreign minister Javad Zarif and eight senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), an elite military unit that was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US earlier this year.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that this would “lock up literally billions of dollars of assets”, by blocking Khamenei and his closest advisors from accessing the American financial system or any assets held in US territories. Furthermore, the US Treasury can sanction any foreign financial institution that conducts transactions for the listed individuals or groups.
These are far from symbolic sanctions - Khamenei controls an estimated $200 billion corporate empire with hundreds of companies across dozens of sectors.
Importantly, the sanctions that have been imposed on the Iranian Regime are preventing the mullahs from supporting terrorists and creating missiles, but they are not harming the people of Iran because the people never received any benefit from the sanctions relief. The money was swallowed up by Regime institutions and stuffed into the pockets of the mullahs.
The economic crisis affecting Iran is also not the result of US sanctions, starting months before Trump even pulled out of the nuclear deal, let alone agreed on sanctions against Iran. In fact, it is the result of Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani’s policy of aggressive military expansionism, as well as the mullahs’ desire to steal what they can from the people.
That’s why the Iranian people, organised by the opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (People’s Mojahedin or MEK, PMOI), have been taking part in a nationwide anti-regime uprising since December 2017. That’s why they’re chanting “leave Syria alone, think of us instead” and “death to the dictator”, rather than the regime's war cry of “Death to America”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently called the regime out for their lies, their corruption, and their utter disregard for their people, rightly saying that the ayatollahs “seem more concerned with riches than religion” and believe “the Iranian people are acceptable casualties in the march to fulfil the revolution”.
He continued: “These hypocritical holy men have devised all kinds of crooked schemes to become some of the wealthiest men on Earth while their people suffer.”
Struan Stevenson, the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CiC), wrote: “The extent of corruption by the mullahs is well known to the Iranian people, who are sick of seeing their rich oil and gas wealth stolen and used to fund proxy wars in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq and to fill the bank accounts of the mullahs, while they starve. The oppressed millions in Iran will welcome President Trump’s latest round of sanctions against their corrupt leaders. It is now the duty of the EU to follow America’s lead and show their support for the Iranian people.”