It’s not just domestic politics that Donald Trump refuses to abandon in the face of the dire emergency that is the coronavirus outbreak. The president’s international grudges remain open despite the shuttering of restaurants, sports events, and theaters across the nation.
Despite Iran being one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic — with photos of mass graves taken from orbiting satellites popping up on the internet to show the extent of just how hard the virus has hit the Islamic country — Trump’s State Department announced a new set of sanctions on nine entities and three individuals in the country “who have engaged in activity that could enable the Iranian regime’s violent behavior.”
The move is a response to a rocket attack in Iraq — attributed to Iranian-backed militias — that killed two U.S. service members last week at the Camp Taji base, north of Baghdad, where coalition forces fighting ISIS are stationed.
“The actions of these individuals and entities provide revenue to the regime that it may use to fund terror and other destabilizing activities, such as the recent rocket attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces located at Camp Taji in Iraq,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
The extension of further sanctions against the Tehran government at a time when that country — like so many around the world — is struggling to care for those already infected with the coronavirus and to protect against the further spread of an infection that knows no borders is sure to hurt not just the millions of innocent Iranian citizens but will also harm efforts to stop the virus from expanding beyond its current parameters.
Iranian-American journalist Negar Mortazavi, a commentator for BBC World, posted a chilling prediction of the catastrophic future that the Iranian people face due to the combination of international sanctions and the mismanagement of the health emergency by their own government, proving that America doesn’t have a monopoly on incompetent responses by those in power.
Iran faces coronavirus catastrophe: Researchers estimate Iran will not reach the peak of epidemic till late May, and up to to 3.5 million people could die as a result – thanks to a lack of international aid and government mismanagement.
— Negar Mortazavi نگار مرتضوی (@NegarMortazavi) March 18, 2020
Arash Karami of the Middle East news outlet Al-Monitor posted the latest horrifying statistics coming out of Iran on Twitter earlier today.
Iran’s total confirmed corona cases is now 17,361 with 1,135 deaths. In the last 24 hours there have been 1,192 new cases and 147 deaths.
— Arash Karami (@thekarami) March 18, 2020
As the Trump administration ignored humanitarian concerns to seek vengeance on Iran’s political leaders, more rational and compassionate voices called for an end to policies that cause further harm to everyday Iranians during the global crisis.
Iran is facing a catastrophic toll from the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. sanctions should not be contributing to this humanitarian disaster.
As a caring nation, we must lift any sanctions hurting Iran’s ability to address this crisis, including financial sanctions. https://t.co/OBjff1nsxz
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 18, 2020
With every ounce of our attention that is squandered on anything other than fighting the common enemy of the COVID-19 virus, America is losing valuable time that could otherwise be dedicated to saving lives here in our own country — something that you would think that the president who ran on a platform of “America first” would surely realize.
Unfortunately, rationality and consistency are two qualities sorely lacking in the Trump presidency, which will hopefully be the biggest victim that the coronavirus pandemic claims after the administration’s lies and failures in its initial underwhelming response to the crisis.
Original reporting by Tal Axelrod at The Hill.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.