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U.S. Sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Intended To Sink Diplomacy

Aug. 5, 2019 (EIRNS)—The U.S. imposition of sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif makes little sense unless the intention behind them is to prevent the possibility of U.S. negotiations with Iran. Chas Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and well known for his blunt criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, said as much in an interview with Persia Digest published on Aug. 4.

“This appears to be a move by hardliners like Bolton and Pompeo to ensure that there is no bridge to a Trump meeting with Iranian leaders,” he said, and that the move is “designed to frustrate those pushing for diplomacy as opposed to pure coercion.”

The Iranian response to the sanctioning of Zarif has been a combination of anger, ridicule, and pity for the U.S.

“It is ridiculous to claim [that they want] to negotiate [with Iran] and at the same time they sanction the country’s foreign minister,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said yesterday. “During a meeting with a senator [Rand Paul], they invited him to meet [Trump] and immediately [after that], they sanction him,” Rabiei continued, confirming the New Yorker article of Aug. 2 reporting that Zarif had been invited to the White House to meet President Donald Trump. Rabiei continued that “Zarif is in charge of foreign policy and in charge of public diplomacy and all kinds of diplomacy, and all diplomatic paths pass through his path.”

Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, wrote yesterday that “Active and effective diplomacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran cannot be sanctioned, and neither Trump nor any of his allies could prevent the reflection of Iran’s expressive voice in the world,” reported Tasnim. In the article discussing various aspects of failure of the U.S. policy toward Iran, Shamkhani wrote: “By withdrawing from the JCPOA and adopting the policy of maximum pressure against Iran, Trump tried to humiliate his internal rivals and the international community to prove to everybody that he is a different person and could gain the most at the least cost by pursuing his own creative methods.”

Zarif, himself, also confirmed the New Yorker report on the invitation to the White House. “I was told in New York I would be sanctioned in two weeks unless I accepted that offer, which fortunately I did not,” he said, reported AFP.

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