An Alternative to U.S. Sanctions against Iran
Postscript-May 5, 2005- Not Sanction, UN Pro-Democracy Fund for Iran-To: Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, New York, Discussion: (http://www.unol.org//caucus.shtml), Your Excellency Kofi Annan, Instead of sanctions on Iran, we would like to propose a new U.N. initiative, that as long as IRI's violations of human rights continue, any company doing business with Iran, to be required to pay 50% of the profits of its Iran operations, to a fund established at the U.N., for the purpose of providing financial support to the Iranian pro-democracy movement. Please help establishing the UN Pro-Democracy Fund for Iran. Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/Iran1000/petition.html
For years, the issue of U.S. sanctions against Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), has been a heated topic of discussion among the Iranian opposition. In fact, although these these sanctions started with IRI taking U.S. hostages, in the subsequent years, the sanctions not only were not expanded, but were in practice, even curtailed , whether by loopholes or by the IRI lobbyists, and the reason was not really the paid lobbyists of IRI, but the reason was Iranian opposition itself, which mostly opposed the sanctions.
Some of the most ardent opponents of IRI, even gave a lot of financial support to the movements to remove sanctions against IRI, and argued that contrary to countries like former Soviet Union and South Africa, the Iranian people would suffer because of sanctions, and thus they did not favor sanctions against the government of IRI, regardless of how much they wanted to see the end of IRI.
It is interesting that many of the supporters of Iranian opposition, who financially helped the anti-sanction activities, have not paid even a penny to help the opposition forces working to end IRI, and it is not true about many of them to be on the payroll of IRI or benefiting business from IRI. True that there are real IRI lobbyists paid by IRI but the ones I am referring to were really *opposition* but happened to care to spend their money to stop the sanctions and not to help the Iranian opposition. Why? Because they saw the sanctions as an immediate evil that could make an Iranian baby dye of malnutrition, whereas they saw the opposition as a long term goal, and were not sure who to support, if any.
Unfortunately many of the above mentioned anti-sanction activists helping IRI all these years, were independent people spending from their own pockets, who did not care to support the opposition forces and at best would contribute $10 to their favorite journal, but when it came to fighting the U.S. sanctions, they felt that they are helping a child not to die because of not having milk due to sanctions. For better or worse, this is the reality of the way some of the most informed Iranians think on the issue of sanctions.
In all these years, I, myself, did not call for new sanctions, but only called for human rights conditions to end the existing U.S. sanctions, and I was attacked heavily, not just by the IRI lobbyists, but also the part of the Iranian opposition that I noted above. Needless to say that the position of European Union today, is what I called for in those days and those in Iranian opposition, who attacked me for my position in those days, support the same position today. And of course IRI seeing this requirement to get most clearly demanded, has tried to claim the absence of human rights violations in Iran, although whitewashing the facts of Zahra Kazemi's death, or the death threat to Salman Rushdie by IRI Supreme leader himself, are pretty hard to be brushed aside.
The above issues are all well-known, and have been widely discussed in the Iranian and international press. In fact, I have discussed the past positions on sanction, in details, especially in an article, entitled "IRI Sanctions: Yes or No?" [http://www.ghandchi.com/319-IRISanctionsEng.htm], that I wrote over a year ago, on February 30, 2004, and no need to repeat here.
My above article was in response to a part of Iranian opposition who asked about a year and half ago, to actively seek sanctions against IRI, by all countries, and especially the Western democracies. I had written that such a position will deepen the current divide on this issue within the Iranian opposition itself, and also noted that the Iranian people for different reasons are opposed to sanctions, even many of the same people are actively working to put an end to the Islamic Republic.
I noted that the above reality may seem paradoxical to many of those who had seen the use of sanctions in former Soviet Union and South Africa, but the reality of Iranian people and opposition, for better or worse, is the paradoxical way that I described, and thus I do not think calling for international sanctions is a correct position.
Now the question is that if we do not call for UN sanctions against IRI, when seeing the gross violations of human rights in Iran, then what other option do we have? My answer is that we need a different kind of UN action.
Let's take a look at the Iranian opposition, that nowadays almost everyone agrees, that this force is the real option for regime change in Iran, and any invasion of Iran by a foreign force, whether a U.N.-supported coalition, or the U.S. itself, will backfire in Iran. If the expectation of Iranian opposition is the huge task, that U.S. military with its financial and military might in Iraq, had a hard time to accomplish, then what is the financial plan for such a huge undertaking for Iranian resistance?
When Khomeini was opposing the Shah's regime, he had the financial source of Islamic khoms and zakAt, which are tremendous sources of income for Iranian clergy. In contrast, the Iranian secular independent opposition almost has no financial resource and this is the force we want to do the regime change in Iran!
Iranian resistance is financially in the toughest situation imaginable. Any of the independent opposition forces that you look at, hardly get any support from any sources. There are many Iranian professionals, who could in many cases make over $200,000 just in salaries, but have chosen for years to work even three times more for the Iranian opposition, but with no income, and at the cost of depriving themselves and their families from even some of the very basic needs.
Of course the U.S. Congress has approved a $3 million fund to help Iranian resistance. In the first place, many of the Iranian opposition forces have an issue to get assistance from any specific government, but have no problem to receive assistance from an organization like the U.N. and openly with no strings attached. But beside that issue, $3 million is like nothing. I mean this is just equivalent to 15 people, who could otherwise be making $200,000 a year, to work for free in the Iranian resistance. And we know a lot more than that number have been doing it for years at a dear cost to themselves and their families and this is not going to achieve much. So how could one use such a minuscule budget to attract high caliber individuals to work full time in the Iranian movement, as we know paying salaries to full time activists is not the only cost of a resistance movement.
Is there a solution to all this paradoxical reality of Iranian resistance? I think there is:
My proposal is to start a new U.N. initiative, that as long as IRI's violations of human rights continue, any company doing business with Iran, to be required to pay 50% of the profits of its Iran operations, to a fund established at the U.N., for the purpose of providing financial support to the Iranian resistance.
Of course, still all the cheatings that we see with sanctions, can happen with this initiative too, such as IRI lobbyists trying to whitewash IRI of violations of human rights. But the good point about this proposal is that the sincere people, who belong to Iranian opposition, will not feel the way they do with the sanctions, that the effort is stopping the feeding of a baby in Iran who will die of malnutrition, and thus will not fall for IRI lobbyists, and other victim games that IRI has played for years, when the international community was determined to deal with IRI violations of human rights in Iran.
The Iranian opposition will be strengthened this way, when there has not been khoms and zakAt to help the secular independent opposition all these years, and receiving this income by Iranian opposition is legitimate, because it is from Iran-related business and the Iranian opposition that is being deprived by IRI from Iranian sources of income, has the legitimacy to receive this partial proceeds.
Moreover, a stronger Iranian opposition means that IRI will not be able to easily respond to a state like Canada, that it will not give the body of Zahra Kazemi for autopsy, and leaving the Canadian government with no choice, as to either be truthful to defending its citizens and break relations and initiate sanctions, or to hesitate action because of trade considerations.
Of course, the UN fund initiative will not be an easy task, not just on procuring the 50% profit of the corporations working with IRI, but especially the task of determining what forces deserve to get assistance from this U.N. fund. And again just like other similar human rights efforts, the organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, ACLU, and other similar organizations can help such efforts at the U.N., to make it all *open* and with no *strings* attached.
Hoping for a Federal, Democratic, and Secular Futurist Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
April 20, 2005