By Sara Safa
“International sanctions” is a new term in international politics and a new strategy or political instrument that came more operational in the early 1970’s after US withdrawal from the Vietnam war amid several challenges and a real economic pressure that the US had to face especially after the first oil shock when Arab countries and for a first and last time came together and organized an oil embargo on western countries in the context of the Arab-Israel wars, leading to the implementation by the US and its allies of a new strategy and new strict measures in order to change the reality of an alliance that can pose a potential threat in front of the American interests. Therefore, re-engineer the region and reinventing the Arab world became a project into existence in order to suit more the US interests and to preserve the American hegemony and leverage in the region.
Hence, in 1974, a series of amendments were made in order to authorize the US president and give him full rights to take any appropriate action against any state that “impedes the activity US economy” what was later came to be known as the section 301 of Trade Act of 1974. A law that legalizes the violation of any state’s sovereignty in a clear and direct abuse of international law and world trade rules and agreements but an ideal soft weapon for subjugating nation and populations. Thus, interfering in any foreign country is from now on possible only when the US government decides that a given State is “evil” or “terrorist” or any other pretext from the American economic interest’s perspective.
Practically, given the case of the American sanctions against Russia, western powers support all separatist movements in Eastern Europe and try to apply same cold war containment policy by including these countries to the European Union in order to limit Russia’s influence and disrupt its economic activity in particular when it comes to oil trading by imposing severe sanctions on not only Russian companies but even European companies dealing with Russia, what is apparently effective to weaken the State and rob its decision-making capability.
Same strategy is also adopted with all the “rebellious” states such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, China, etc. and succeeds to a far extent in achieving the desired goals. In 1982 for example, the United States banned the importation of Libyan oil and banned exports to Libya because of the military training the Gaddafi government provided for the Palestinian freedom fighters, and later on an intervention that lead to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi after he succeeded to nationalize Libya’s oil companies and threatened to constitute an African union dealing with other than the US currency, France’s Sarkozy therefore provided all support for the Islamic party and supported terrorist groups for this purpose. Same way it did before to disintegrate the Arab Maghreb Union during the 1980’s.
Severe sanctions for 12 years were same way imposed on Iraq following the occupation of Kuwait, during which the Iraqi people suffered from the deprivation of the basic needs, medicine, food and water plus health care services before the 2003 invasion that was led by a unilateral decision without the security council consensus destroyed all the country’s infrastructure…
Now embargo against Iran includes, a wide range of sanctions like the banning of the crude oil industry and its derivatives, the development of conventional weapons and nuclear materials, add to this the freeze of all Iranian assets and the stocks of foreign financial institutions that maintain any business with the central bank of Iran.
On Oct. 3, 2006, President Bush declared that the policies followed by the Sudan Government threaten the security and peace of America’s policies, especially when it comes to the government’s oil policy. And a severe blockade has also been imposed on Sudan, affecting the banking sector, by imposing sanctions on several companies and industries and preventing the export of technologies leading to a complete deterioration of the airlines and railways condition. Sanctions also affected the health care services, medical institutions were denied medical equipments and machineries and many sick people died before civil unrest brought about the division of the country to into two parts the South and the North in 2010.
This strategy is losing ground today, and it will no more be effective in a near future, this is because the United States and their western allies have exhausted all means and possibilities, the expected and unexpected, from monopolizing the international organization’s decisions to the recruitment of human resources till the exploitation of religious beliefs or ignorance in some societies. These strategies, have been largely successful, but came to an end in the Syrian case after America’s recognition for its failure to bring about an end to the Assad’s regime with the end of an almost six year’s war and the fall of an enormous violent Islamic militancy on the hand of Syrians and some Lebanese who fought bravely against a Western-Arab-Islamic coalition for the two countries to survive a dark swamp of a long story full of treachery, betrayal and deception leading to a complete failure for a culture and an identity to belong to a degraded Arab world.
Sarah Safa is a Lebanese researcher.