Ever since Iran became an Islamic theocratic state in 1979, it’s foreign policy and the nuclear program has not found favour with western countries.
As a result, Iran has faced on and off sanctions from the US, EU, and the UN targeting it’s oil and banking sector- thus periodically crippling its economy and undermining the living standards of Iranians, who are expected, by the authors of the sanctions, to raise up against the government and eventually change Iran’s foreign and nuclear policy. Something that the Trump administration is banking on during a global pandemic that has already taken the lives of more than 3000 people in Iran.
Sanctions are essentially a type of weapon used by a powerful country or a group of countries, against a non-cooperating country, to isolate it from international trade and finance, hence crippling its economy. The worst affected by sanctions are the common people of the country, whereas the lifestyle of the ruling elite, who are incharge of the country’s policy, is hardly affected.
Even before the Covid19 crisis reached Iran, it’s economy was in a bad shape thanks to the imposition of fresh sanctions by the Trump administration which unilaterally withdrew from a negotiated nuclear deal that had reduced tensions between the two countries, lifting previous sanctions, and was also supported by a large majority of the international community.
At a time when western countries with the best medical facilities available, and their allies who do not face any kind of international sanctions, are themselves facing huge shortages of basic PPE, ventilators, beds, and blood, it is not difficult to imagine the plight of the common Iranian living under harsh international sanctions.
The Iranian government, like the governments of many other countries, was not quick in responding to the pandemic and lost precious time to prepare. Now it’s hospitals are facing a shortage of beds, medical equipment and protective gear, and the sanctions are making it impossible for Iranian hospitals and doctors to import much needed medical equipment. The World Health Organisation suspects that the number of cases in Iran are five times higher than what is being documented.
The UN Human Rights Commission and lawmakers within the US have called on the president to lift the sanctions on Iran in light of the pandemic and allow humanitarian transactions, but the response from the Trump administration has only been limited to announcing a bureaucratically exhausting procedure for organizations that wish to send help to Iran. The procedure aids more to discourage, than it does to allow, for humanitarian aid to reach Iran.
When the world comes out of the covid19 crisis, data and statistics of those who died in this global battle will be shared from all countries.
In the case of Iran it will be difficult to arrive at the exact number of those who died due to coronavirus, not because of government mismanagement, but because the cause of death could be the sanctions just as much as the coronavirus.