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Coronavirus: Responsibility for Death, Suffering in Iran to Lie with Trump Administration

Iran is witnessing a catastrophe, being the hardest hit country after China and Italy by Coronavirus. Last Monday, Iranian officials reported another 129 fatalities, the largest one-day rise in deaths since it began battling the country, bringing the total number of infections to more than 18,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19—growing at about 1,000 per day—and more than 1,200 deaths.

This dire situation is the result of the shortage of much-needed medication and medical equipment, due to the US sanctions on the country.  This latter have devastated the economy, and blocked every financial channel available to Iran for buying food and pharmaceuticals. The Trump administration reimposed sweeping penalties on Iran’s economy after exiting the 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump administration is being glaringly cruel and extremely unreasonable, showing callous disregard for the lives of innocent Iranians in the midst of this global coronavirus crisis, and even worse; it went far by declaring that crippling economic sanctions will be doubled down on the Islamic Republic, despite the sheer scale of the suffering.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have addressed the international community, calling for ending the inhuman US sanctions. 

For their part, China and Russia urged the U.S. to immediately lift unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic, to fight against the coronavirus pandemic as they are hindering imports of medicines and food it needs. China, which is one of the hardest-hit countries, has sent anti-epidemic materials including test kits, as well as a team of voluntary experts to Iran.

Iran suffers severe distress and is in dire need of funds, medical supplies, and goods to help it contain the disease. Every effort is severely hampered by US sanctions. Respiratory masks, surgical gowns, and ventilators are out of stock and many companies and banks around the world, for their part, have been worried about engaging with Iran, fearing US sanctions. 

The evidence is undeniable. The U.S. sanctions are seriously destroying Iran’s health infrastructure and are leading to immediate deaths and suffering of the Iranian innocent population, especially with the secondary sanctions which choked off Iran’s ability to commercially buy many products.

Thus, the international community must assume its responsibility towards this massacre and react to this severe strain imposed on Iran as millions of Iranian citizens are, purposefully, cut off from purchasing necessary medical supplies. Iranians’ right to health and access to essential medicines must be fully guaranteed. The United States keeps lying, claiming that it does not use sanctions to hurt people, however, its claims are, categorically, unfounded. Trump administration is using whatever mechanisms possible to suffocate Iran as part of its hybrid humanitarian war against those innocent people.

Besides, accusing both the Iranian government and people, which are dealing with the dual challenges of a deadly pandemic and U.S. sanctions, of ineptitude and incompetence is, also, baseless because it is widely acknowledged that Iran’s medical system is one of the most developed in the region and that the country is well known for medical tourism. People from different countries flock to the country to receive medical treatment, ranging from heart bypass surgeries and cancer treatment to plastic surgeries. The country offers high-level services to the patients irrespective of their nationalities, races and religions or sects. However, dealing with a pandemic hitting the globe requires access to lots of medical supplies, from test kits and face masks to oxygen tanks, alcohol and other disinfectants, and many more which are limited under debilitating U.S. sanctions. 

Trump administration is devious; technically, it claims that medical supplies are exempted from the sanctions. But in actual practice, it imposes draconian penalties to any foreign entities that intend to trade with Iran or provide it with the necessary merchandise it needs to overcome this bone-breaking and unprecedented crisis. Let's guess that the transaction purely involves medical supplies, Trump administration is not trustworthy at all; it may subject those entities to other forms of sanctions or fines.

COVID-19-Iran is mobilizing extensive resources to try to respond to the public health crisis and to cope with the shortages, it requested, for the first time in six decades, a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, to fight the virus’ propagation. But the Trump administration will likely block it as part of Trump's maximum-pressure-on-Iran policy.

Despite his claims that he does not target the innocent Iranians, the example of tech giant Google is instructive in how far the sanctions extend to cover the humanitarian aspect. Iran had launched an official COVID-19 downloadable app, with a view to providing people with guidance on the COVID-19. But the surprise is that on March 10, Google removed the app from its Play Store without providing an explanation for its act! …depriving Iranians of an instructive tool that might be effective in dealing with the disease and preventing death and misery.

Another point is that this conspiracy is triggered by a propaganda campaign. Noting that the American propaganda started much before the outbreak of the virus.

According to the Independent, President Donald Trump’s State Department was funding a social media propaganda campaign that maligned Iran. This program, called “the “Iran Disinformation Project,”  is shouldering an ostensible mission of fighting disinformation coming from Iran, but practically, it spreads fake news and discredits respected researchers and journalists.

Imperialist-friendly propagandists, from different Western and Arabic media working under the auspices of US,  have clearly mishandled Iran’s efforts to fight the spread of the virus, however, and in comparison to the U.S. government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump administration took weeks to make test kits available, whereas Iran government has done far more. Since the outbreak of the virus, Iran shut down kindergartens, nurseries, daycare centers, schools, Hawzets, and universities, banned large gatherings including Friday prayers, banned traveling to touristy areas of the country, disinfected buses, trains, and metros and even sprayed the streets, parks and other public places. It ramped up the availability of hospitals and clinics to deal with the patients. Nobody has been charged for testing or treatment. 

Besides, BBC Farsi has done a great job! It claimed that the toll death is much higher than what the Iranian government is announcing, seeking to “sow distrust” in the minds of the Iranian people, as highlighted by Scott Bennett, former US army psychological warfare officer, and counter-terrorism analyst.

“Clearly the BBC Persian news is attempting to sow distrust and suspicion in the minds of the Iranian people towards their government by suggesting the Iranian government and leaders are hiding information from the people (and) therefore are deceiving the people in order to suppress the people from rising up,” Scott Bennett, from San Francisco, told Tasnim in an interview.

A witness of their own flock testified. Bennett is a US Army Special Operations Officer (11th Psychological Operations Battalion, Civil Affairs-Psychological Operations Command), and a global psychological warfare-counterterrorism analyst, formerly with defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. He received a Direct Commission as an Officer, held a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) security clearance, and worked in the highest levels of international counterterrorism in Washington DC and MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. He has developed and managed psychological warfare theories, products, and operations for US Special Operations Command, US Central Command, the State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, and other government agencies.

The American official added that the current Coronovirus-related accusations are simply another propaganda campaign engineered and strategically communicated by the Israeli Zionists and neocon-zionist fanatics who have infiltrated the White House, stressing that they are hysterically committed to harming Iran in any way possible depending on all means, including propaganda.

According to him, the coronavirus and all of the reports and claims surrounding it should be viewed as a hostile Western propaganda campaign seeking to exploit an artificially manufactured emergency to influence the thoughts and behaviors of Iran and China. 

Of course, the BBC or any other biased media outlets, whether they are Farsi, Arabic or English speaking ones, do not investigate, in similar speculations,  the accuracy of the numbers reported by other governments like; Saudi Arabia, and other client states, as imperialist-friendly clients are never subjected to the level of “investigative journalism” that Iran is. Those media outlets are, clearly, committed to sow distrust between the Iranian government and its people, claiming that the Iran leaders are not serious about fulfilling their duties and hiding information from the people, with a view to deceiving the people and pushing them to rise up, demanding speedy solutions at a time where US sanctions are afoot, hampering every single effort by the government. According to their scenario, this anger would be, again, exaggerated by them, i.e imperialist media and even inflated into becoming a false national uprising, calling for the departure of the regime. This is a standard strategy by US administrations and its agents; on the one hand, Trump administration insists on keeping the oppressive and illegal sanctions and, on the other hand, accuses Iran’s government of not responding effectively.

The situation in Iran is expected to worsen amid US’ Medical Terrorism and world silence. The unilateral sanctions must be lifted before more lives are lost. Trump’s administration is the only one to be blamed for restricting Iran’s access to crucial medicines and supplies which resulted in the propagation of the virus. The sanctions continue to be a crime against humanity. Thus, the international community should, proactively, ensure Iran is receiving the medical supply and relief material they need to combat this very serious health crisis.

End U.S. Sanctions on Iran! 

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