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Rouhani Says Sanctions Target The People Not The Regime; Many Disagree

Iranian President Hassan Rohani attends a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran, November 5, 2018
Iranian President Hassan Rohani attends a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran, November 5, 2018

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has once again reiterated Tehran's position on the impact of US sanctions, denying any harm to the country's economy while alleging that the U.S. wants to "exert pressure on the people."

Speaking on Saturday November 10 in Tehran, Rouhani said that "the U.S. does not intend to target the regime or the government," and that the US pressures are directed at the people of Iran," and "are only meant to leave a psychological impact."

He said once again on Saturday that "There is nothing new in the latest round of US sanctions, as Americans have already done whatever they could do against the people of Iran."

Other Iranian politicians have made similar claims. Iranian activist Ammar Maleki responded to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's claim about the sanctions targeting the people rather than the regime in a November 9 tweet.

Maleki wrote: "Zarif keeps saying that sanctions are aimed at the Iranian people; he knows that if he says the sanctions are aimed at the regime, people will blame the regime. It's as if a hostage taker is holding his hostage as a human shield while screaming: look they want to kill this poor guy!

News coming from Lebanon and Turkey during recent days say international fuel suppliers at the international airports in Beirut, Istanbul and Ankara have refused to supply fuel to Iranian aircraft fearing repercussions from the sanctions.

In another development, shipping companies in Europe have reportedly refused to insure passengers travelling with Iranian passports.

Meanwhile, a group of Iranian artists and celebrities launched an anti-sanction campaign on social media, alleging that the U.S. sanctions prevent Iran from importing food and medical supplies."

The allegation is made ignoring remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Iran Action Group Chief Brian Hook who have repeatedly said that there are no sanctions against importing food and medical supplies and that there are also sanction-free banking channels that facilitate the import of such items into Iran.

Iranian officials have claimed that some of the banks involved in importing foodstuff and medicine have been targeted by US sanctions on charges of having "remote links to the Basij".

Iranian journalist Reza Saki observed in a tweet that the Islamic Republic cannot convince the people that sanctions impact the availability of medicine. He added the people believe what Pompeo says, because they turn to foreign-based media as reliable source of news.

Other Iranians on social media have lashed out at the celebrities for their "double standards" and for ignoring the deprivation of prisoners of conscience in Iran from medical treatment.

This tweet features the photos of a young political prisoner, with health problems in prison.

Iranian activist Ammar Maleki tweeted that "If artists and celebrities are really against the sanctions, they should write a letter to regime officials and call on them to stop supporting terrorism and intervening in the affairs of other countries, so that there would be no excuse for sanctioning Iran."

However, celebrities were not the only campaigners in Iran during recent days. Some 410 current and former student activists wrote an open letter to academics, intellectuals and activists, calling for a thorough review of the dominant political and intellectual attitudes in Iran in order to find a way out of the country's critical situation," a website supporting the Iranian "Green Movement", Kalemeh, reported.

The student activists further warned that the very existence of the Iranian people would be at stake if the dominant political discourse in Iran remains unchanged.

The activists highlighted "The ruling establishment's inability in addressing national problems and its insistence on downplaying the catastrophes Iran is suffering from". They said this is what prompted them to call for reforming Iran's political, social and economic systems.

However, the student activists rejected the idea of reform from the top in tandem with holding elections, and dismissed as futile and useless the generalized discourses on the necessity of respecting democracy and civil rights that are not backed by solid plans.

Our concern today, the signatories reiterated, "is not wrestling each other in intellectual arenas; our problem today is the danger of annihilation that threatens the existence of all Iranians".