Who can force the United States to lift sanctions?

As sanctions kill, why doesn’t the United Nations do something to stop the sanctions being imposed on Syria? And who can force the United States to lift the sanctions?

This issue is very important and complicated from the viewpoint of Mr. Bahman Azad, Executive Secretary of the US Peace Council, who affirmed to Syria Times e-newspaper that there is no easy answer for these two questions but there are certain points that we need to keep in mind when we ask these questions.

“The United Nations in many ways, is not an independent body... The General Assembly of the United Nations, which is actually the democratic part of the UN has no power of enforcement over these decisions,” he said, indicating that veto power allows the major powers in the UNSC to veto any majority decision.

“Having that in mind, when it comes to the question of sanctions, we are dealing with two levels of sanctions on the countries here. The ones that are done by UNSC on certain countries, for example on Iran, and then there are the unilateral sanctions that the US unilaterally decides to impose on some countries. As you know there are at least 30 countries under US sanctions,” Mr. Azad clarified

He posed the following 2 questions: Can the UN do anything if the United States, the great power in the UNSC, does not agree with it?” What can we push to the UN for lifting the sanctions?

 “We have started to sign an international open letter to address the government of the United States and the United Nations to do something about the sanctions. We have been communicating with some missions and ambassadors to the UN and they are telling us that UN is trying to at least lift its own sanctions [the UN imposed sanctions] on some of these countries. I heard that the UN sanctions on Iran have been eased up, but I do not know about any of the other ones,” Mr. Azad added.

 However, the problem lies in the fact that the U.S. controls the financial structure of the trade and investment in the world. “When the US freezes the banking system of these countries, it makes them unable to pay for what they want to buy even if the country agrees to sell them taking the risk of US anger. Even if they do that, those government that are under sanctions are not able to pay for what they need. So, they either have to pay through cash which is virtually impossible, or not to buy anything.”

Mr. Azad asserted that the US is punishing any other country or company that deals with or trades with these countries that are under sanctions.

The U.S. actions are going in the opposite direction of helping

“Interestingly, in this situation of Covid-19, the U.S. instead of easing up or thinking of more humanitarian terms to ease up the sanctions, Pompeo claims that Washington is not sanctioning medicines for Iran. But as I mentioned when Iran can not pay for medicines then it does not make any difference if the medicines are on the list of sanctions or not, simply because the blockade on the financial structure of the banking system makes it is impossible to buy things from abroad,” he stated.

Mr. Azad went on to say: “Instead of doing some help which is going to be helping itself because it is the main victim of Coronavirus right now, the U.S. is intensifying its military actions through building up its bases again and reinforcing its missile equipment in Iraq again, which we think that it is going to be an effort to intimidate Iran and Syria right now.”

 

“You know that a lot of travelers go from Iran to the US, so it is a target for many travelers and it can be easily affected by what is happening in other countries. The U.S. actions are going in the opposite direction of helping.”

 Moreover, the UN being the captive of US in decision making process, especially in implementation does not enable it to do anything about this.

“For this reason, the question is: Who can force the US to lift the sanctions? In my view, it is mass mobilization by the people around the world to protest and demand that… No government alone could bypass the US…The UN can’t alone bypass the US. We have to force the US to lift the sanctions. And this can’t be achieved through the UN . It has to be through public and peoples’ movements, mobilization, marches and demands, which have to be organized. And we hope that they will be successful and we hope that the people of Syria will visit the US peace council’s website to sign the open letter that would be sending to US president and UN Secretary General,” Mr. Azad  concluded.

Interviewed by: Reem Haddad / Basma Qaddour       

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