As a doctor, I see the human cost of America’s sanctions on Iran – and it can be as great as war


Sanctions usually have built-in humanitarian exemptions – yet America’s on Iran have rendered such exemptions meaningless

Salil Patel
January 9th, 2020

The current Iranian-American conflict is complex. Even geopolitical experts have found themselves unable to predict the next move after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian intelligence service, by the United States. Soleimani was the second most powerful person in Iran after supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Retaliation is expected; resolution is not.

Trump, in pubertal Twitter bursts, has oscillated between all-out war with Iran or harsher economic sanctions. Many in the international community advocate for increased sanctions in an understandable bid to avoid war. From a humanitarian perspective, this is much preferable. Theoretically, sanctions harm economies, not citizens. Yet the evidence suggests this is not the case.

Modern diplomatic sanctions usually have built-in humanitarian exemptions, allowing international organisations to provide medical aid, food, water and education. However, America’s imposition of so-called “secondary sanctions” on Iran have rendered such exemptions meaningless.




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