(Persia Digest) - The US State Department can’t seem to make up its mind about the cause of Iran’s economic woes, claiming Tehran’s “Marxist economy” is to blame even as it celebrates the devastation US sanctions have wrought on the country.
Essam al-Sudani writes in Reuters that speaking to reporters in New York on Tuesday, US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook assailed the Islamic Republic, demanding an end to its “lethal assistance...to terrorist organizations,” and running down a list of economy-ruining American sanctions currently imposed on the country.
“We have effectively zeroed-out Iran's export of oil,” Hook said. “We have sanctioned Iran's export of petro-chemicals, industrial metals, precious metals."
We have collapsed foreign direct investment. We have seen significant asset flight leaving the country. Iran is in a recession. Inflation is creeping up near 50 percent.
However, Hook went on, it would be wrong to suggest that Washington is behind Iranian people’s struggles – despite having just argued precisely that. Instead, the fault was with Iran’s “Marxist economy” and ideological fervor, the envoy said. Sanctions? What sanctions?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in on the effects of US sanctions on Tuesday, but was more willing to take credit for their ruinous effects on Iran’s oil-dependent economy. Pompeo bragged to MSNBC that the sanctions continue to remove 2.7 million barrels of Iranian oil from the global market on a daily basis.
Unlike oil, Washington insists its sanctions do not target Iran’s healthcare system. In a propaganda video created by the State Department last month and addressed to the Iranian people, Hook claimed the idea was a “myth” pushed by the government. That is not to say the sanctions are not having a devastating effect, however. A recent report by Abbas Kebriaeezadeh, professor of pharmacology at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, found that US sanctions “are killing cancer patients in Iran” indirectly, creating dire drug shortages and skyrocketing prices.
Tension between Iran and the United States has soared in recent months, with US sanctions ratcheted back up after US President Donald Trump abrogated Washington’s part of a nuclear pact signed between Iran and world powers in 2015. The US sought to pin on Iran a series of suspicious attacks on commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf earlier this summer, while the shootdown of an American spy drone over Iranian airspace in June nearly triggered a US military response. Washington has since deployed a veritable arsenal to Iran’s doorstep – purely for ‘defensive’ reasons, of course.