US sanctions on Iranian election watchdog signify ‘failure, frustration & defeat’ of pressure policy – Tehran

On Friday, Iranians are electing members of its 290-seat parliament – known as the Guardian Council – for a four-year term, with some 7,000 candidates running. A day before the polling stations opened, the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions against three members of the Council.

The 12-member supervisory body consists of Islamic scholars appointed by Iran’s supreme leader and jurists appointed by the parliament. Its duties include vetting election candidates, who must be ‘of good reputation’ to run for office. Washington branded the Iranian election “a sham,” targeting two members of the Guardian Council and three members of its Central Committee for Election Supervision for their roles in holding it.

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“Unfortunately for the Iranian people, the real election took place in secret long before any ballots were even cast,” Brian Hook, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran, said at a briefing announcing the sanctions.

One of the blacklisted Iranian officials, Abasali Kadkhodai, said the news made him and his colleagues “happy” and that he was “honored to be sanctioned by America.” Abbas Mousavi, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, dismissed the US move as irrelevant.

“Such measures are nothing but the failure, frustration and defeat of the US regime’s policy of maximum pressure,” he said, adding that “it shows how afraid they are of democracy and popular partnership in Iran.”

Washington is pursuing a so-called ‘maximum pressure’ policy against Iran, threatening other nations into cutting economic relations with Tehran. The stated goal is to force the Iranian government to change its foreign policies and agree to a deal that would be more to the liking of Donald Trump’s administration than the one signed under his predecessor, Barack Obama, which Trump violated.

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Iran’s economy was hurt, but so far Tehran shows no sign of yielding to the demands. Amid the hostilities that brought the two nations to the brink of all-out war following the US’s assassination of a top Iranian general last month, Friday’s election is expected to bring more hardliners and conservatives into the national legislature. Tehran’s critics claim this is the result of machinations by the Guardian Council, rather than a reaction to US policies.

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