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Iran is the wrong target of severe U.S. sanctions

The CIA repeatedly warned President Reagan that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was using outlawed mustard gas and nerve gas against Iran. But Reagan continued providing Saddam Hussein with intelligence and even materials for chemical weapons. Reagan even sent Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad to shake hands with Hussein and assure him of continued U.S. support.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians died in this 1980s war. Ahmed was one of the “lucky” ones. As a teenager, Ahmed “survived” one of Hussein’s chemical attacks, But he lost his right eye and 80 percent of the vision in the left. And his lungs were so badly burned by the chemicals that to this day he still needs special pills and inhalers to alleviate the pain of breathing. Ahmed has had numerous operations in attempts to save what remains of his eyesight. His body rejected two cornea transplants for lack of anti-rejection medicine. In fact, much of the medicine he needs for his eyes and his lungs is unavailable in Iran due to U.S. sanctions.

But Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, his lobby in the U.S., are not satisfied. They are calling for more sanctions and even outright war — because of Iran’s nuclear-energy program.

Paradoxically, Iran is the one country in the Middle East that has not attacked its neighbors in 200 years. Iran has no nuclear-weapons program. It is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has allowed international inspections of its nuclear facilities.

By contrast, Israel bombs or invades its neighbors at will. It has sabotaged Iran’s nuclear-enrichment facilities, and Israeli assassins have murdered Iranian engineers. Israel itself has hundreds of atomic bombs. It built the first ones using uranium stolen from the U.S. Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to allow international inspection of its nuclear facilities.

So who is the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East? And why does Congress not impose sanctions on Israel?

With few exceptions, U.S. congresspersons follow Netanyahu’s orders as relayed by American Israel Public Affairs Committee. All four members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation — Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin and Cicilline — must vote according to instructions from committee. They have all received major contributions from lobbyists for Netanyahu.

Last year the legislature of the smallest state also bowed to pressure from the American Israel committee. The Rhode Island legislature adopted anti-Iran sanctions spelled out for it by the American Israel Public Affairs committee. Not a single state senator and only two state representatives had the courage to disobey orders from the committee.

Meanwhile, Ahmed and millions of other Iranians suffer from the harshest sanctions in recent history.

Rod Driver


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