Source: Common Dreams
On a recent delegation to Iran, we experienced first-hand the legendary Iranian hospitality. Iranians are particularly thrilled to meet Americans, but as we discovered, our government’s policies are hurting the very people who want to be our friends.
As our 28-person delegation traveled through the country wearing messages on our jackets proclaiming “Peace with Iran” in English and Farsi, we were surrounded by people—from schoolchildren to storekeepers—who wanted to practice their English and talk to us. Their eyes lit up when they heard we were from America. We were constantly posing for photos and exchanging Instagram accounts. We were offered endless cups of sweet tea and showered with more gifts than we could fit in our suitcases.
A frequent refrain we heard was, “Americans good, Trump bad.” We did meet a few Trump supporters. At one roadside shop outside Tehran, we were shocked to find an entire collection of Donald Trump’s books for sale, in Farsi. One book buyer said Trump was good because would help get rid of the awful clerics who were running Iran. Most people, however, whether they liked or hated their own government, complained that US policies were not hurting the government or the wealthy, but the middle class and the poor.
In May 2018, President Trump’s unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement, followed by an imposition of draconian sanctions that not only prohibit U.S. companies from doing business in Iran, but threaten all foreign companies and international banks that trade with Iran. The sanctions also severely limit Iran’s ability to sell its major source of revenue: oil.
The U.S. sanctions, along with mismanagement and corruption, has decimated the value of the rial and sent the prices of consumer goods soaring. As one of our guides told us, “Our bank savings have been wiped out, rents go up every month, and the price of food increases every single day, while most salaries stay the same.” At a roadside stop outside the Tomb of Cyrus the Great, the wife of the tea vendor told us how her family’s standard of living has plummeted in the past year. “We used to be able to afford a car, now we can’t even afford a refrigerator,” she lamented. Visiting a school for poor children in the southern part of Tehran, we learned that the number of street children has increased, particularly in households headed by single women.