Grind for September 17th
“Rules are not necessarily sacred; principles are.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Dismal reports from Iran prove that Trump’s pressure campaign is working
The economic sanctions imposed on Iran last year when President Trump pulled out of the nuclear year have left the regime in a dire situation.
“They have fewer resources. We can see it with the Shia militias in Iraq,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“We think the Iranian government will shrink, that their GDP will shrink by as much as 12 or 14 percent this year…This will reduce their capacity to purchase the things they need, the equipment they need, the materials they need, to inflict terror around the world.”
Iran’s GDP grew by more than 12% in 2016 and by more than 3% in 2017. Last year, the economy grew at a rate of -3% and is expected to do twice as worse this year.
Reports suggest that 17 of Iran’s 18 government-funded retirement funds are losing money (this includes pension funds for soldiers). According to official documents, government subsidies for food, drugs, and fuel are also running out.
US officials point to Iran’s troubles as evidence that Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign is working, while Iranians claim the sanctions are unfair.
“I noted the repeated statements by @SecPompeo that Iran must change its policies in order for Iranians to eat is pure #EconomicTerrorism,” tweeted Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif. “Tying bread & medicine to politics is to kill & starve people into submission. Iranians will never capitulate.”
In the meantime, Trump is considering a proposal by French President Emmanual Macron to provide $15 billion in credit to Tehran if Iranian leaders agree to comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. He is also considering lifting the sanctions in exchange for a face-to-face meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The best-case scenario for Trump is that the economic situation in Iran will spur a military coup. This would prove the power of US sanctions and perhaps convince other countries to cooperate with us in the future.
Trump confirms death of Hamza bin Laden
President Trump on Saturday confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden, son of notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Hamza was killed in a US counterterrorism operation near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border earlier this year. His father, Osama, was killed by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May 2011.
Earlier this year, the US State Department announced a $1 million dollar reward for any information leading to Hamza’s capture. On July 31st, CNN reported that Hamza was believed to have been killed.
Hamza’s death was confirmed this week after a lengthy investigation prompted by al-Qaeda’s silence on the matter.
“The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” said Trump.
Like his father, Hamza was an influential member of al-Qaeda (the terrorist organization responsible for 9/11). He was introduced by the group in August 2015 as “a young lion to carry forth the cause.”
Brett Bruen, former White House director of global engagements, told reporters last month that Hamza has been the ‘heir to the al-Qaeda throne.’
“Even if he didn’t exercise operations control, his name and those actions requested to be carried out in his name carries weight in amongst those who were drawn to al-Qaeda by his father,” said Bruen. “There may be others who take on leadership roles. It will be a long time, if ever, we see someone who can legitimately claim the legacy of a near-mythical figure like bin Laden. For those engaged in the long fight against extremism, this is a significant victory.”
The State Department is offering a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of al-Qaeda leader Ayman Az-Zawahiri.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… One 75-watt bulb gives more light than three 25-watt bulbs.