Ilhan Omar, the freshman Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, recently called for the Trump administration to lift, as an act of mercy and goodwill, its economic sanctions against Iran, a nation that has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Retweeting a thread that blamed the American sanctions for the current shortage of medical supplies in Iran, Omar wrote: “We need to suspend these sanctions before more lives are lost.”
Omar’s opposition to U.S. sanctions against Iran long predates the coronavirus era. When President Trump first announced their enactment in May 2018, Omar was still a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. A few months later, following her election to Congress, she denounced the sanctions as a form of “economic warfare” that had “already caused medical shortages and countless deaths in Iran.”
From listening to Omar, one would never know that the U.S. government has long abided by a policy – which continues to this day – permitting the sale of “agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran” as a means of aiding the general population while punishing the theocratic regime in Tehran.
Omar was opposed not only to President Trump’s imposition of sanctions against Iran, but also to his 2018 decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran Nuclear Deal that the Obama administration had negotiated three years earlier. To refresh your memory, the following were among the more noteworthy provisions of that disastrous agreement:
- Iran was permitted to keep some 5,060 centrifuges, one-third of which would continue to spin in perpetuity.
- Iran received $150 billion in sanctions relief – “some portion” of which, according to Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, “we should expect … would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region up until now.”
- Russia and China were permitted to continue to supply Iran with weapons.
- Iran was given discretion to block international inspectors from military installations and was assured that it would be given 14 days’ notice for any request to visit any site.
- No American inspectors were given access to Iranian nuclear sites.
- Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program remained intact and unaffected.
- Iran was not required to disclose information about its past nuclear research and development.
- The U.S. agreed to provide technical assistance to help Iran develop its nuclear program, supposedly for peaceful domestic purposes.
- Sanctions were lifted on critical parts of Iran’s military, including a previously existing travel ban against Qasem Suleimani, leader of the terrorist Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
- Iran was not required to release American prisoners in its custody.
- The U.S. and its five negotiating partner nations agreed to provide Iranian nuclear leaders with training courses and workshops designed to strengthen their ability to prevent and respond to threats to their nuclear facilities and systems.
- Iran was not required to renounce terrorism against the United States.
- Iran was not required to affirm its “clear and unambiguous … recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”
- Whatever restrictions were placed on Iran’s nuclear program would all begin to expire – due to so-called “sunset clauses” – at various times over the ensuing 5 to 26 years.
Remarkably, all of this was perfectly fine with Ilhan Omar. The only thing that bothered her was the imposition of sanctions against an aspiring nuclear power whose leaders had repeatedly sworn their commitment to wiping the U.S. and Israel off the globe.
If you try to find an example of a single instance where Ilhan Omar has taken America’s side in its dealings with Iran, you won’t find one. Consider her reaction after President Trump ordered and carried out the targeted killing of Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3. “I feel ill a little bit because of everything that is taking place,” Omar said during a press conference. “And I think every time I hear of conversations around [possible] war [with Iran], I find myself being stricken with PTSD” — presumably a reference to her family’s flight from the Somali Civil War in 1991. Remarkably, Soleimani’s tireless efforts at masterminding the murder of hundreds of American soldiers – and the maiming of thousands more – caused Omar no such psychological distress.
One of Omar’s legislative assistants today is Mahyar Sorour, who last year mounted an unsuccessful campaign for a board seat with NIAC Action, the sister group of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). Last July, NIAC, echoing Ilhan Omar, avidly supported a Democratic House Resolution calling for the United States to return to compliance with the Iran Nuclear Deal. Moreover, NIAC’s founders and top officials have close ties to the Iranian regime. But none of this is enough to cause Omar to rethink her connections to NIAC.
Ilhan Omar is a member of the United States Congress, but she does not in any way protect and defend the interests of this country.
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