U.S. Sanctions On Iran Are So Bad, Women Have Run Out of Birth Control

Iran has never been touted as a bastion of human rights, economic equality, or political freedom. But although many of Iran’s problems can be blamed on the regime itself, the U.S. is increasingly playing a major hand in hurting the innocent bystanders of an international chess game between itself and its Persian adversary.

Iran is facing a growing health crisis due to international sanctions levied against the regime. Many essential medicines including birth control, cancer treatment drugs, and equipment needed to maintain vital hospital functions are becoming increasingly scarce.

Iran’s leadership is not free from blame. Former President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei did little to alleviate the problem, but when digging a little deeper, it becomes apparent that there may not be much they can do short of completely revamping Iran’s political, economic, and military architecture.

The U.S.-led push to sanction Iran into space has made it extraordinarily difficult to ship anything to the country, not just medicine, which is supposed to be protected from the grip of such action. But given that banks and shipping companies face stiff fines for breaking any type of sanctions law, it has become excruciatingly difficult to find anyone willing or able to send medicine to Iran with speed and in necessary bulk. As a result, Iranians are forced to rely on expensive and sketchy black market medicines.

Further, even if Iran were to slowly moderate their tone in exchange for certain concessions from the West, it may not be fast enough given the extreme level of difficulty in removing sanctions against the country. Not only have such sanctions become law, necessitating an act of Congress to overturn, but powerful lobbying organizations like the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will make it nearly impossible to do so. 

U.S. lawmakers recently announced a bill for another painful round of sanctions against the country, in essence giving the middle finger to the new Iranian president, who actually ran on a platform of easing sanctions against his country.

Even Iran’s wily Chief of General Staff Hassan Firouzabadi recently said that the military is ready to remove itself from economic activity, a vital step toward easing sanctions against his country. But given that the U.S. is playing power politics with this new round of economic jabs, Iran may be helpless, regardless of the concessions the regime is willing to make.

As is all too common, cold wars, no matter the size, tend to hurt the citizens of involved countries while pushing the leadership to double down on faulty doctrine. Unless more moderate, creative, and brighter minds prevail on both sides, the beleaguered majorities will continue to endure the fallout.

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Joseph Sarkisian

Joseph graduated with a Master of Science in international relations from the University of Massachusetts Boston and was an intern at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC. He completed his BA at Arizona State University in political science as well as studied Arabic language, terrorism/counterterrorism, and religion. Joseph also lived in Egypt where he studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo in 2007. Joseph was the Secretary of the Executive Committee for the University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Government, a teaching assistant in his department, and teaches a class on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. His main areas of interest are the Af/Pak region, Iran, Syria, and other current foreign policy issues.

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