The 4th of November: 39 years of Iranian defiance and today’s strategies against sanctions

The 4th of November: 39 years of Iranian defiance and today’s strategies against sanctions

Every year on the 4th of November Iranians celebrate an important anniversary in the history of their revolution against the US backed dictatorship. The 4th is the date the “Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line” took over the US embassy in Tehran.

As a result of this action, fifty two American Diplomats and Citizens were taken hostage for four hundred and forty four days.

The incident is the source of a long-standing debate between Iran and the US, countries which had been close allies a month before the occupation. The debate continues today.

Many Iranians still question whether it was right to attack a diplomatic mission and create chaos which affected not only relations between Iran and US, but also internal affairs in the middle east.

This year, the date nearly coincides with president Trump’s threat to impose new sanctions against Iran on the 5th, Sanctions which are unmatched in all of history, as president Trump describes them.

In1951 when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized Iranian oil, Americans implemented their sanctions against the country and aimedto entirely eliminate Iranian Oil exports. To the present, they have been unable to meet this goal.

Since the 4th of November 1979, the date of the occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran, the US has implemented numerous severe sanctions against the Iranian people and yet, has never be enable to achieve what it desired: the return of Iran to the US’ sphere of influence.

The only moment when Iran was deeply affected by the sanctions wasin 2011, when the international community joined forces with US against Iran.

The question remains: how effective can the new US sanctions against Iran be if the International community doesn’t cooperate?

Or perhaps it is more direct and clarifying to ask the question this way: Will the international community cooperate with the US in implementing new sanctions against Iran?

President Rouhani’s government is proud to be able to break the international unity which was created against Iran before the JCPOA, and hopes that the bad relations President Trump has created with countries around the world will lead to hesitation to agree to the terms of the sanctions package.

If the question was simply a choice between the US and Iran, naturally most countries know that their interests lie with Washington. However, Trump’s belligerent policies against other countries have forced many politicians to differ between US policy and Trump’s policies, one of which is the new sanctions package.

Today, Iranians are hopeful that politicians around the world who are taking a stand against Trump’s policies might also do the same in regard to the new sanctions against Iran.

It would be naïve to think that new sanctions will have no effect at all, but it is likely that they will not be as devastating as the US imagines they will be.

President Trump wants to prove that he is a good negotiator and that he can drive any country towards acting in the interest of the US, which, according to him, stands above all other interests.

If he is not successful in bringing Iran to the negotiation table, it means that his policies have failed.

The current Iranian government could be considered one of the best governments post-revolutionary Iran has had in terms of potential for negotiations with the US, but they  nonetheless need a reason to sit at the negotiation table again.

Trump’s policy is to raise the stick without showing a carrot, it is not effective in the least when it comes to Iran.

Iran can not be compared to North Korea for many reasons, the most important being that in North Korea one man can make a decision that affects the entire country, and nonetheless, we still had to witness tensions rising between the US and North Korea to the point of possible nuclear war before we saw the leaders of both countries sitting at the negotiation Table.

The negotiations, however, lead to nothing but except an easing of tensions.

If there is no carrot, no politician in Iran would dare to even speak about new talks with US, especially after the JCPOA agreement was reneged.

Though ostensibly the JCPOA was an agreement between IRAN and P5+1, everyone knows that the main agreement and talks were between Iran and the US, and now that US has withdrawn from the JCPOA, there is no guarantee that any new talks would lead to an agreement which would actually be implemented but the US.

The withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA and other international agreements gives a good reason for those who are against talks to say that the US is not trustworthy and won’t stick to any agreements made regardless.

The US has entered conflicts with many other countries around the world, starting with Russia and China and even including many US allies, because of this, many people in Iran believe that the current international situation would be the best time for Iran to make another stand against US.

The US has threatened countries and companies with severe sanctions if they continue working with Iran, yet many of those threatened have openly stated that they will not or are not able to fully eliminate trade with Iran. The American Treasury Department had to backup from its previous threats and announce that it would give permission to for some countries and companies to work with Iran after the 4th of November if they lower their import of oils around 20%.

Due to US sanctions against other countries, many countries in the world are seeking to enter a new international financial transaction system independent from US dollar, a system which, if it is successful, could have serious consequences for the US, since they are dependent on the Dollar to cover their deficits and manipulate other countries.

If this happens, Iran would would be able to effectively ignore the sanctions.

Once again, we shouldn’t expect that the new sanctions won’t have any negative consequences for Iran, but since the Iranian government has been preparing for these sanctions for months, they will likely be able to hold out against them, and work to organize a new situation where the US will not be able to effectively pressure them in the future.

Emad Abshenass
Journalist, writer and Political Science professor (Iran)


July 2020
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