Earlier today, the U.S. Treasury Department enacted sanctions against two major Islamic Republic [of Iran] commercial entities: Tidewater Middle East Co. and national air carrier Iran Air.
Tidewater is a port operating company owned by Mehr-e Eqtesad-e Iranian Investment Company, itself owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The latest incident involving Tidewater was an arms shipment seized by Nigeria in October 2010, which was loaded at a port in Iran operated by Tidewater. Iran Air—a commercial airline—is accused of being used by the IRGC and the Islamic Republic’s defense ministry to transport military-related equipment.
Today’s sanctions not only tighten the grip on the IRGC, but also send a clear message to the allies of the Islamic Republic who may feel tempted to allow the Republic to use their transport infrastructure. Unfortunately, civilians may also suffer as an undesired side effect of the sanctions regime. Passengers to Tehran already experience prolonged trips and layovers in Yerevan, Armenia, because most European airports deny fuel to Iran Air, and the Iranian merchant class suffers under the weight of increased shipping prices and other commercial impediments.
But it isn’t U.S. sanctions that cause such suffering. Rather, it’s the self-serving policies of the Revolutionary Guards that have induced these hardships. Had the Guards not used civilian airliners, shipping lines, and port facilities to pursue its goals, average Iranians would not have to endure the unfortunate by-products of U.S. efforts to rein in the Islamic Republic’s most troublesome institution.
By Ali Alfoneh