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Iranian Journalists, Activists Have Mixed Reactions To New Sanctions

Iranians look at newspapers displayed on the ground outside a kiosk in a street of Tehran, Iran, 24 November 2013.

As the United States imposed sanctions on hundreds of Iranian individuals, companies, and financial institutions while reinstating pre-2015 sanctions on Iran's oil exports, shipping, and banking operations on Monday, Iranians voiced their reactions on social media as official media outlets were in denial of the sanctions' impact.

While a majority of people who reacted expressed their disagreement with the sanctions, there were also those who supported the measure on social media.

Referring to the names on the sanctions list, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahni, a member of the Iranian Parliament, asked, "Who handed this information to the enemy?" Farahani, who is an MP for Qom, called on Iranian intelligence to find out.

"This list includes almost everyone and every organization that helped Iran to circumvent the previous rounds of sanctions," he wrote on Twitter.

Sadra Mohaqeq, a journalist based in Iran, responded to a tweet in Persian by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He wrote in his tweet: "You directly target the people, forbid banking operations so that they cannot buy the medicine they need, and sanction Iran Air by which ordinary people travel, and then you tweet in Persian that the United States supports the Iranian people!"

Farshad Kashani and other Iranians on social media noted that an oil tanker the United States put on its sanctions list, is no longer around as it sank in the South China Sea last year. Kashani also pointed out in another tweet that Iran Air had already been sanctioned before its name appeared on the new list, adding that according to the International Court of Justice, providing air travel services was a humanitarian act.

Still others have found that one of the banks on the list of sanctioned financial organizations no longer exists. Some even doubted whether Iran really had 50 banks.

Tehran-based Iranian journalist Saeed Barabadi opined that the sanctions against Iranian shipping will help insurance companies refuse to cover losses sustained by the owners of a ship that sank last year.

Another Iranian journalist in Tehran, Ehsan Bodaghi, wrote that even Richard Nephew, who was previously involved in imposing sanctions on Iran, has acknowledged the human costs of sanctions.

Nephew had tweeted that he "was responsible, directly, for U.S. sanctions against Iran for a long while," adding, "I took pride in their development, design and use, but not joy. Having to do this is lamentable and will impose very real human costs."

Journalist Javad Daliri, editor-in-chief of the administration-owned daily newspaper Iran, wrote in a very brief tweet: "The people of Iran have been targeted by sanctions."

However, a number of Iranian social media users abroad voiced support for the sanctions, but others, based in Iran or abroad, criticized them for doing so.

Reformist activist Majid Tavakoli openly wrote that he did not oppose the sanctions, adding that he believed this was not inconsistent with the social responsibility to alleviate people's agony.

A number of foreign-based Iranian activists and political analysts welcomed the sanctions in interviews on Persian-speaking TV channels based in Europe. Social media users based in Iran harshly criticized the channels for "joyfully" covering the sanctions "in a way as if they were covering the Academy Awards nominations."

Foreign-based activist Aida Ahadiani criticized a group of Iranian activists abroad who had called for sanctions against Iran in a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, telling them sarcastically to write another letter and thank him for sanctioning Iran Air.

Peacefully protesting against the silence and the conduct of official media outlets, Hamid Ram tweeted, "I wish I lived in the Iranian News Channel, where 'America cannot do a damn thing,' sanctions have no effect, and prices do not rise, European countries beg to cooperate with Iran while China and Russia agree with them."