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US Senior Diplomat Says Iran And Venezuela 'Are Governed By Thieves'

US special representative for Iran Brian Hook delivers media statement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, Israel. 30 June 2020.

U.S. Special Representative on Iran Brian Hook says that Washington’s sanctions have cut Iran’s oil exports from 2.5 million barrels a day in May 2018 to 70,000 barrels in 2020.

Hook who was speaking at a video-seminar on Iran and Venezuela organized by the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. said, “This is the price the regime pays for acting like an outlaw regime.” The Islamic Republic and Venezuela he said, “are rich countries that are governed by thieves”.

The other speaker at the event was Elliot Abrams, the State Department’s Special Representative for Venezuela, who also pointed out that corruption was a part of Venezuela’s 95 percent decline in oil exports, compounded by U.S. sanctions.

Hook, who has just returned from a trip to the Middle East drew a parallel between Iran and some of the other regional countries, reiterating that when one visits Arab Gulf states and Israel it becomes clear that “the Iranian people have been robbed of decades of progress”.

Hook also maintained that the Iranian model of governance is being rejected both inside the country and in places where the Islamic Republic exercises influence, such as Lebanon and Iraq. He pointed out widespread protests in all three countries as a clear sign that people are rejecting the model presented by the Iranian regime. He added that the difference is the Gulf Arab states and Israel are “investing in their own people” while Iran “is squandering” its resources on terrorism and anti-Semitism.

Tehran rejects accusations of terrorism and argues that its allies in the region are defending themselves as an “axis of resistance” against Israel and the United States. But at the same time many top Iranian officials have called for Israel’s annihilation and regard the Islamic Republic as the leader of the Muslim world.

Hook also reiterated that the Trump administrations’ “maximum pressure” policy toward the Islamic Republic has forced it to cut back on weapons and money it provides to its proxies in the region.