U.S. tangles with allies over economic warfare

Washington’s wide-ranging economic war which gets little attention except from those directly involved, has raised new issues with the U.S.’ European allies.

Just this week the U.S. announced additional sanctions against second and third countries purchasing Iranian oil, although it gave temporary waivers to eight countries including South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Greece, Japan, China, India and Italy. Many of these countries had already made sharp reductions in purchases of Iranian oil. The U.S. waivers have added tension to relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as Washington pushes for Riyadh to shed full light on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

“The Saudis feel they were completely snookered by Trump”, one informed source said. “They did everything to raise supplies assuming Washington would push for very harsh Iranian sanctions. And they didn’t get any heads up from the U.S. that Iran will get softer sanctions.”

The United States blocked an attempt by Russia to ease the UN sanctions on North Korea in what Moscow claimed was an effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the impoverished nation. But U.S. Amb. to the UN Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor who has built a reputation as a tough-minded diplomat, on Nov. 8 accused Russia of cloaking an attempt to lift sanctions on North Korea’s banking sector as a “humanitarian” gesture and vowed to keep Moscow from succeeding.

All this is part of U.S. economic warfare based on the use of measures [most often “blockade”, or a ban on trade and financial activities], the primary effect of which is to weaken the economy of another state [or other states]. United States sanctions [as of Feb 17, 2016] generally apply to “U.S. Persons,” which includes U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens, persons physically in the United States (regardless of citizenship), U.S.- organized entities and their branches, and any foreign entity owned or controlled by a U.S. person.

The U.S. Countries the United States currently has sanctions and embargoes against:

In 1979, after a group of radical students attacked the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the incident led to the freezing of most of Iran’s assets, with stricter sanctions being imposed in later years. These sanctions have resulted in increased prices of basic goods in Iran and increasingly have made it difficult for it to market its principal export, oil and petroleum products.

North Korea
The invasion of the North Korean forces in South Korea on June 25, 1950 triggered the U.S. government to impose a severe economic ban against North Korea with subsequent years more sanctions due to its involvement in nuclear weapons and threats of bombing the US. The U.S. issued the latest ban in March 2016 following a North Korean cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

Relations between the U.S. and Syria were officially suspended in 2012. Since then numerous sanctions and executive orders have been issued against Syrian citizens and companies for engagement in terrorism, public corruption, and involvement in Lebanese and Iraq activities. U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in the Syrian petroleum trade as well as investing in Syria.

Relations between Sudan and the U.S. deteriorated after Sudan’s recurrent support for groups officially labeled terrorist including the Palestinian and Libyan terrorists. The sanctions were initially introduced following Sudan’s support for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, involvement in the Pan-Arab Islamic Conference, and providing sanctuary to international terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden, Carlos the Jackal, and Abu Nidal. But there has been a resumption of U.S.-Sudan military ties and the establishment of a CIA office in Khartoum in 2017, the largest office in the Middle East, because of the country’s critical importance to the intelligence community.

Washington first issued sanctions against Cuba in 1960 during the Cold War and Cuba’s alliance with the USSR. The sanctions were triggered by the gradual take-over of the private sector industries, a majority consisting of America-owned businesses. Following secret negotiations between Cuba and President Barack Obama, some of the travel restrictions were eased as well as restrictions for associations with Cuban banks. Cuba was also removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

China and Russia have both publicly called for a relaxation of restrictions as a recognition that North Korea has made concessions to the United States in negotiations aimed at ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. But Britain and France have backed the United States, arguing sanctions should stay in place until North Korea actually starts to dismantle its nuclear-weapons program.



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