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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


July 13, 2000

Sanctions will make things worse

Dear Congressman Brad Sherman,

It has come to my attention through the large Iranian-American community of Southern California that you are about to introduce a bill that reverses the partial lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, as adopted by the State Department in March.

While the recent violations of human rights and press freedoms in Iran and the questionable trial of Iranian citizens on charges of spying concerns us all as freedom-loving American citizens, many well-respected American Iran-experts as well as current and former U.S. government officials have explained from their expertise how the continuation of economic sanctions against Iran is against our national interests.

These respected Americans, among whom are Profefoor Gary Sick, former secretaries of defense Chainy and Schultz, former National Security Advisor Brent Scrowcroft, former secretaries of state Brzezinski and Baker all have argued that by pressuring Iran's economy, we will be strengthening the hand of the hardliners inside Iran against democratic reformers, including the executive branch of President Khatami and the newly elected reformist parliament.

The simple fact is that hardliners within Iran survive on a motto of anti-American rhetoric and place the blame of all of the country's ills on the United States. More importantly, they use these slogans to muffle the voices of reform, reason, and moderation by accusing them of being American agents and enemies of Islam.

Therefore, any reinstatement of sanctions against Iran, will not only not make the smallest difference in the condition of the ten Iranian Jews, but it will probably make it worse for them in addition to hurting Iran's movement towards democracy.

Just today, President Khatami expressed hope that in their appeal, the convicted Iranians are likely to receive more leniency. This goes to demonstrate that his liberal-minded government is already trying to influence the hardline judicial branch in favor of respect for these Iranians' civil rights.

By Congress reinstating sanctions against Iran in reaction to this spy case, the next line out of the hardliners' propaganda machines is going to be, "see how America came to rescue the Zionist spies! We will not succumb to America's pressures!" Then the next move will be to make more arrests, close down more newspapers, and further stall Iran's movement towards democracy and moderation.

As it is well known, democracies don't go to war against democracies, and in the case of Iran a democratic Iran will be more moderate (as it has already proven) and will not pursue terrorism or violation of civil rights, including those of its religious and ethnic minorities.

As an Iranian-American and your constituent, I ask you to kindly pay attention to these truths and the advice of expert Americans and not pursue the path on which you have embarked. As a public servant, your goal should be the promotion of our national and regional interests and not immediate political gains.

Besides, I invite you to present my letter to those constituents and donators who are pressuring you to introduce this bill and see if they will not have a change of heart.

Also, we have a very large Iranian-American community in the Los Angeles area, including your district, and I invite you to make your voice heard among our community. As our community has in the last few years become more united and politically active, I am sure that we can serve as a loyal and helpful constituency to your future campaigns and public initiatives.

I invite you to please demonstrate to our community your sincerity to the promotion of democratic principles (e.g. civil rights) at home and abroad.

As for the immediate concern of justice for the Iranian Jews convicted of spying, I am certain that diplomatic measures through the United Nations towards the Iranian government will be the most prudent means of trying to support these men. Any sort of pressure through the United States or Israel on their behalf will only exacerbate their misfortune.

Danny K


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