Middle East media has reported Iran cutting funds to militia groups in Syria as its economy continues to suffer from the renewed imposition of US sanctions.
According to reports, militant groups backed by Tehran have reported to have missed paychecks over the past months. Even financial aid to Iran’s closest Arab ally, the Lebanese Hezbollah, has dried up in the recent period.
Of course no one should be surprised at these developments. The American sanctions that kicked back in last November were designed well. They’ve hit Iran’s biggest industries, especially the oil sector, and have been slowly producing devastating effects. In January, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran is facing its toughest economic situation in 40 years, and that the United States was squarely to blame.
And Rouhani is exactly right. Much of the world today is now being given a choice between engaging with the market of the U.S. or that of Iran. Regardless of a country’s political proclivities and whether or not it supports America’s policy on the Islamic Republic (much of the West does not), it is nearly impossible for any nation to forgo the $20 trillion American economy in favor of accommodating Iran.
In addition to Iran cutting funds to Syria, the latest consequence of U.S. sanctions have been another massive hit to Iran’s oil industry.
On 2 April, administration officials reported three of eight countries granted waivers by Washington to buy oil from Iran have now cut their imports to zero. “In November, we granted eight oil waivers to avoid a spike in the price of oil. I can confirm today three of those importers are now at zero,” Brian Hook, the special U.S. envoy for Iran, told reporters.
The direction of trends are pretty clear. Iran’s financial situation is deteriorating by the day. The open question, however, is where this will all lead. The radical ruling class of Iran will likely not be giving into American pressure anytime soon, which means the average Iranian will probably be left bearing the burden of Iran’s defiance for the foreseeable future.