Hamid Yazdan Panah is an attorney focused on asylum and immigration in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also a human rights activist focused on the Middle East and Iran.
Trita Parsi and the distortion team at NIAC are at it again. Parsi recently, penned a piece entitled. “The Senate’s Gift to ISIS: Sanctions on Iran”. The piece reads much like every article written by Parsi, it takes a current event, and spins it into a reason that now is the perfect time to coddle Tehran. This time he uses ISIS as the boogeyman that can only be defeated if sanctions are not imposed on Tehran.
In the piece, Parsi claims that imposing sanctions on Iran would “enable ISIS to benefit from the reignited US-Iran rivalry.” He claims that sanctions would be a “gift’ to ISIS. The argument is a stretch, even for Parsi. Equating sanctions on Iran as some form of direct support for ISIS, is both illogical and an example of fear mongering of the worst kind. Parsi further attempts to champion Tehran’s military confrontation with ISIS, ignoring the strategic interest Iran has in the fight. Using Parsi’s logic, we should be providing Khamenei with military aid, and perhaps some cranes to allow Iran to maintain its status as the leader in per capita executions.
One need only look at Parsi’s track record on the issue to see just how ridiculous his arguments are. Exactly one year ago Parsi wrote a piece entitled “Khamenei’s Little Helpers in the Senate” in which he claimed that the Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei was rooting for sanctions to be imposed on Iran. Despite the fact that Reuters published an in depth analysis of how much Khamenei’s financial empire stood to gain from the removal of sanctions.
So to get this straight, Trita Parsi believes that imposing sanctions would benefit Khamenei, and ISIS. Even though Khamenei is the Supreme Leader of Iran and has the last word on foreign policy decisions, and according to Parsi is leading the fight against ISIS? What do you expect from the man who once adamantly argued against designating the Iranian revolutionary guard as a terrorist organization.
In May of 2014, Parsi claimed that there was no evidence that sanctions had “brought Iran to to the table.” So using his own logic, it would seem that imposing sanctions would not result in Iran leaving the table either?
For the last decade Parsi has sought to equate sanctions with war, and claimed that any imposition of sanctions would lead to a breakdown of negotiations with Tehran, and result in military conflict. This directly contradicts the facts that Tehran has repeatedly come to the negotiation table precisely because it sought sanctions relief. In fact, a number of documents were produced during a lawsuit involving Parsi which document his desire to “frame sanctions an initial step that invariably will lead to war”.
In his fear mongering, Parsi conveniently sidesteps the fact that Iran played a central role in the creation of ISIS, by propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq, and providing a platform for the radicalization of Sunni’s in both countries. It is no surprise that ISIS and Iran are bitter enemies, as they vie for domination over territory in Syria in Iraq. Yet the solution is not to cozy up to Tehran, but to support moderate non-sectarian forces in both countries. Assad’s presence in Syria and his Iranian backing has provided ISIS legitimacy and traction.
The fact is sanctions on Iran and the battle against ISIS are two very separate issues. This is just Parsi grasping at whatever he can to oppose sanctions. Next week he will probably tell us that Iran sanctions increase the risk of global warming, and contribute to childhood obesity.
Let’s read between the lines here. Sanctions on Tehran are not relevant to the fight against ISIS, however they are part of a much more important equation for the regime, namely its domestic stability and survival. Parsi opposes sanctions because they hit the regime where it hurts, at home, and on the domestic front. He knows all too well that an isolated regime, without the backing of foreign trade interests, will fall victim not to ISIS, but an uprising by its own disaffected population, something with Parsi and Khamenei both hope to avoid.