Biden Administration Announces Sanctions in Response to Iranian Crackdowns on Mahsa Amini Protests

AP Photo/Francisco Seco

The Biden Administration has announced sanctions against 14 Iranian officials in response to a governmental crackdown against massive protests across Iran following the brutal murder of Mahsa Amini 40 days ago. Amini died in custody after her arrest for not properly wearing a hijab. From NBC News:

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“Forty days after the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, Iranians continue to bravely protest in the face of brutal suppression and disruption of internet access,” Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson said in a statement announcing the package of sanctions.

“The United States is imposing new sanctions on Iranian officials overseeing organizations involved in violent crackdowns and killings, including of children, as part of our commitment to hold all levels of the Iranian government accountable for its repression.”

The Treasury Department statement mentions what the sanctions do … which, frankly, isn’t much if anything (italics mine).

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. OFAC regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Furthermore, unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the persons designated today could be subject to U.S. sanctions.

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior.

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Because if anyone is going to respond to economic sanctions by playing nice, it’s the Iranians. /sarc

Meanwhile, in Iran, sufficiently heated action is making even the mainstream media pay attention. From CNN:

Nationwide protests took place in Iran on Wednesday to mark 40 days since Amini died, an important day of mourning in Iranian and Islamic tradition.

The unrest came on the same day that at least 15 people were killed and 10 others were injured in a “terrorist attack” at the Shahcheragh Shrine in the city of Shiraz, southern Iran, according to state-run IRNA news. It’s unclear if Wednesday’s attack was linked to the protests.

ISNA said security forces “did not prevent” protesters from visiting Amini’s grave in Saqqez, which is also her birthplace, but reported that clashes took place after people left the site.

As is most often the case these days, the best reporting comes from citizens on the scene who manage to bypass governmental attempted Internet blackouts and post directly on social media.

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God bless the Iranian people as they struggle to destroy tyranny.

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