OP-ED

Which Side, the US or Iran, Breaches International laws?

Having been faced with considerable economic pressure following the new US sanctions, Iranian officials have been more frequently talking about how important it is to adhere to international laws. They warn the international community about the consequences of the Trump administration’s breach of International law. It has been proven that the Islamic Republic of Iran sticks to a law whether it’s international or internal only when the law is in favor of its ambitious aim which is jihad.

The United States’ withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal known as the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) has been slammed by Iranian officials. Reaching the JCPOA agreement after almost a decade of negotiations between Iran and six major powers (the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) in Vienna in 2015, the UN Security Council passed resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA. By signing a presidential memorandum on May 8, 2018, Donald Trump re-imposed all US sanctions lifted in connection with the Iranian nuclear deal. The decision has put the Iranian regime under mounting pressure as the Iranian national currency has gone into a tailspin, halving in value since April. Protestors chanting slogans against the regime took to the streets of almost 40 cities days after the decision.

Iran sees the re-imposition of US sanctions as removing a big opportunity to strengthen their already ill-functioning economy. Under the UN resolution, the economic sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for the regime curtailing its nuclear aspirations. The signatories pledged “to promote and facilitate the development of normal economic and trade contacts and cooperation with Iran” and ensure Iran’s access in areas of trade, technology, finance and energy, and refrain from actions that would undermine it. Furthermore, they pledged to refrain from any policy intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.

“The US withdrawal from the JCPOA and re-imposition of its sanctions is a serious breach of its legal obligations under the UN charter, which entails its international responsibility. The international community must act in the face of this international intimidation and affront towards the international legal order”, Gholamali Khoshroo, Tehran’s ambassador to the UN argued in a commentary published by the Guardian on August 8, 2018.  “The United States is more and more isolated on the subject of sanctions,” said Iran’s president Rouhani in televised remarks on July 14, 2018. “The illegal logic of the United States is not supported by any of the international organizations.”

However, Iran itself has not shown any respect for international laws. Since its establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran has regularly breached international laws, beginning with the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran following which fifty-two American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. It was Iran that encouraged a minority within the Al-Amal Shiite party in Lebanon to separate and establish a radical political-militant movement called Hezbollah in 1980. On October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon, Hezbollah carried out a suicide attack on Multinational Force in Lebanon (MNF) peacekeepers, killing 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers.

During the past four decades, the Iranian regime has supported Al-Qaeda, Hamas in Palestine, Houthis in Yemen and the different terrorist groups in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Iraq, and countries in East Asia. Today, Iran is involved in proxy wars in various countries including Syria. A motion has already been passed in Canadian Parliament calling on the government to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity. Iran has been described as the ‘Bank of terrorism’ by the US treasury department in its annual reports on terrorism.

Iranian regime supports these horrifying activities in order to pursue their main goal which is expanding ‘the rule of God’ on earth.  ‘Jihad’ (the holy war) is mentioned in the preamble of the constitution as it reads: “The Islamic Republic Army and the Revolutionary Guard Corps not only have the duty of defending the borders to fulfill, but they should carry out their ideological mission which is jihad in the way of God and fight to expand the rule of God in the world”.

Even though Iran as a member of the United Nations is expected to observe human rights, it has frequently suppressed its ethnic and religious minorities. As examples, consider the massacre of the Kurdish minority in the first decade of the Islamic Republic, the executions of more than five thousand political prisons in 1998 and the violent rape of arrested protestors during the Green Movement in 2009. The Iranian regime has assassinated hundreds of Iranian dissenters in Iran and abroad. Talking about the rights of children, women, laborers, minorities and political prisoners under the rule of a regime claiming to be the state of God is nonsense.

Vienna, the same city in which Iran and the six powers signed the JCPOA is more familiar with the true face of the Islamic Republic of Iran than any other city in the world. Dr. Abdolrahman Ghassemlou, the Kurdish leader and the Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan was assassinated on the peace negotiation table by Iranian diplomats in Vienna on July 13, 1989. The Iranians will only negotiate if they are sure that it will help them achieve their overall aims. Addressing Iranians on August 14, 2018, Ayatollah Khamenei who is the most powerful decision-maker within the system said: “We can only enter into the dangerous game of negotiations with the US when we achieve our intended power in economic, political and cultural terms”.

When the Obama administration signed the JCPOA to put a stop to the four-decade US-Iran tensions escalating at the time, the Iranian regime was implicitly granted the permission to openly support jihadist movements all around the Middle-east. It is hard to believe that the new US sanctions can deter Iran from its sponsorship for terrorism and its hostility towards the West.

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