By Jubin Katiraie
Brian Hook, the United States’ special envoy for Iran, announced on Thursday 20th February that the US Treasury Department is issuing new sanctions on the Iranian regime’s powerful Guardian Council and the affiliated Elections Supervision Committee.
Hook criticized the committee for denying access to parliamentary seats to more than 7,000 candidates. Furthermore, he deplored the committee for disqualifying another 90 current members of parliament from running for re-election.
The Guardian Council is comprised of 12 members. Six of these were appointed directly by the country’s Supreme Leader and the rest of them were appointed by the country’s chief of the judiciary (who was himself appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei).
The decision to eliminate the 90 current members of parliament is clearly to wipe out the Supreme Leader’s opposition in parliament. The infighting and disputes between the rival factions are increasing in intensity and frequency and they are often reported on in local media.
The parliamentary elections were held on Friday 21st February, which was the beginning of a major crisis for the Iranian regime because the people boycotted the polling stations. Regime officials are panicking because they know that they will be under the spotlight of the international community and having a low turnout furthermore justifies the adoption of a firm policy toward this regime.
The US special envoy for Iran said that individuals sanctioned include Secretary Ahmad Jannati and member Mohammad Yazdi of the Guardian Council. Also sanctioned were three members of the Elections Supervisory Committee.
Hook said that these individuals have taken the chance of “free and fair” elections from the people of Iran. It is a blatant denial of democracy and it is one that the United States sees fit to sanction.
The US Treasury Department said in its press release that the Guardian Council uses its power and responsibility to “disqualify Iranians from competing in elections”. The organization looks into the background of all candidates and ensures that they have shown full commitment to the velayat-e faqih system, or absolute rule of the mullahs and that they are 100 percent loyal to the Supreme Leader. If this is not the case, they will quite simply be eliminated.
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said that the Trump administration “will not tolerate the manipulation of elections to favor the regime’s malign agenda, and this action exposes those senior regime officials responsible for preventing the Iranian people from freely choosing their leaders.”
The Treasury Secretary also affirmed that the United States “will continue to support the democratic aspirations of Iranians.”