The Trump administration on Friday slapped Iran with more sweeping sanctions in an increasingly ludicrous effort to totally destroy the country’s economy.
During his address to the nation on Wednesday, Donald Trump said new sanctions were imminent, while indicating a military response to the rocket attacks on bases housing US troops in Iraq is for now not necessary.
Mike Pompeo and Steve Mnuchin detailed those new sanctions on Friday morning.
The thrust of the new measures is to cripple the country’s metals industry. Specifically, Mnuchin is taking aim at the largest steel, aluminum, copper, and iron manufacturers in Iran, who, Treasury notes, “collectively generate billions of dollars annually”. Here’s a bit of granular detail:
Treasury designated 17 Iranian metals producers and mining companies; a network of three China- and Seychelles-based entities; and a vessel involved in the purchase, sale, and transfer of Iranian metals products, as well as in the provision of critical metals production components to Iranian metal producers.
On top of that, Trump signed a new executive order authorizing Mnuchin and Pompeo to impose sanctions against unnamed “persons” who are “guilty” of “operating in or transacting with additional sectors of the Iranian economy, including construction, mining, manufacturing, and textiles”.
Effectively, it is now illegal to be a part of the Iranian economy. Or at least in America’s eyes, which is really all that matters because thanks to the dollar’s reserve status and Washington’s sway over the international banking system, Treasury can cripple any economy on the planet virtually overnight, with the exception of the euro-bloc, the UK, Japan and China.
The US also sanctioned eight senior Iranian officials including Ali Shamkhani (the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council), Mohammad Reza Ashtiani (the Deputy Chief of Staff of Iranian armed forces), and Gholamreza Soleimani (the head of the Basij militia).
That latter designation (targeting the Basij) is obviously aimed at discouraging the regime from deploying riot police to suppress dissent. Recent fuel protests left as many as 1,500 dead, and generally speaking, the Basij are responsible for maintaining domestic “order” (and we use that term loosely). Pompeo, employing his signature caveman parlance, called it the “brute squad” on Friday.
The brief press conference convened by Pompeo and Mnuchin was characteristically long on over-the-top rhetoric, and one thing we would reiterate is that you hardly need to resort to cartoonish bombast to deride the IRGC. Telling the truth would give you all the justification you need for sanctions.
But Pompeo and Mnuchin went for the gusto, labeling Iran a “terrorist regime” bent on “murder”, “mayhem”, “death” and “destruction”. Pompeo also claimed that Soleimani was plotting to attack embassies (plural).
As far as what the US wants from Khamenei, it’s simple. Trump wants Iran to “behave like a normal nation” and cease its “outlaw ways”.
In case it’s somehow unclear after nearly two years of constant escalations including the total abandonment by Tehran of its commitments under the nuclear accord, rampant piracy in the Strait of Hormuz and various and sundry other mischief, the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign is a “maximum”, “big league” failure.
These new sanctions will only make things worse.