Sina Azodi

  • How US Sanctions Hinder Iranians’ Access to Medicine

    The United States has over the past four decades imposed a wide range of economic sanctions to punish Iran for a number of undesired policies. While Trump administration officials continue to insist that food and medicine are exempt from US sanctions, and that sanctions do not hurt the Iranian people, evidence suggests that unilateral sanctions are collectively punishing the Iranian population by denying them adequate and reliable access to medicine. 

    The US has nominally exempted humanitarian goods from its economic sanctions. However, limitations on trade, the unwillingness of financial institutions to process transactions related to Iran, as well as the Iranian government’s misguided policies, have resulted in staggering prices and shortages of medicine. Compounded together, these issues...

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  • What the Departure of James Mattis Could Mean for Trump’s Iran Policy

    The speeded up departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis did not come as a surprise after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria—and Mattis’ stinging letter of resignation. The Syria announcement was the final blow to a relationship that had become strained over issues ranging from the importance of alliances to the politically motivated deployment of US troops at the border with Mexico.

    The retired Marine general had policy differences with the president about Iran as well. While a supporter of containment, Mattis advocated remaining within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). His departure tilts the balance in Trump’s national security team in favor of more hawkish individuals who have openly...

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  • Historical Traumas Underline Iranian Reliance on Missiles

    As the United States increases its pressure campaign against Iran, the country’s missile program has emerged as a major source of contention. However, Iran is unlikely to heed US demands to halt its development of ballistic missiles, which comprise the backbone of its defense doctrine. 

    In order to better analyze Iran’s defense strategies, it is important to note that for Iran, the line between security concerns and national pride is blurred. Iran’s traumatic historical experiences play a critical role in shaping its approach to defense and in particular, to missiles.  

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  • Iran’s Alliance With Russia in Syria: Marriage of Convenience or Strategic Partnership?

    Russia’s alliance with Iran to buttress embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is approaching a critical phase, as pro-government forces consider how to retake Idlib province, the last major stronghold of Syrian rebels. While this alliance has successfully shifted the balance of power in favor of the Syrian government, it will likely not lead to a long-term strategic partnership between Iran and Russia, as their strategic goals in Syria and the region at large are quite divergent.

    Iranians historically have been wary of their giant neighbor to the north. In the nineteenth century, the Persian Empire was forced to sign a series of humiliating treaties relinquishing claims over territories in the South Caucasus to Tsarist Russia. Even today, Iranians are concerned that after sacrificing millions of dollars and thousands of lives in Syria, Russia will throw Iran under the bus for its own benefit. Recently, an Iranian lawmaker, Behrooz Bonyadi...

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  • Renewed Iran Sanctions Will Bolster the Regime and Undermine the Private Sector

    The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and pursue a policy of “maximum pressure” on the Islamic Republic has been coupled with a public diplomacy campaign in alleged support of the Iranian people. But the result is likely to be a stronger central government, as sanctions crush private enterprise and force beleaguered Iranians to turn to the regime for relief.

    Sanctions are economic and diplomatic instruments that are designed to put pressure on the targeted state to convince it to comply with the demands from those imposing the sanctions. However, the degree of their effectiveness has long been subject to debate. In the case of Iran’s nuclear program, proponents argue that it was “crippling” sanctions that forced Iran to seriously...

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