Congress Rushing To Pass Iran Sanctions That No One Thinks Will Work

iran2The House is expected to take up and pass “a bill imposing tough new sanctions on Iran before the holiday recess.” Americans for Peace Now’s Lara Friedman reports that the bill maybe also pass the Senate quickly:

Today, at around noon, Senate leadership hotlined the bill. Meaning that barring any objections, the bill will be brought to the floor and passed without debate, without amendment, and without a roll-call vote. This is called unanimous consent — a move reserved, generally, for bills that are clear and non-controversial. […]

It remains to be seen if the entire Senate will agree that a bill that would impact virtually every aspect of US policy (and policy options) related to Iran — now and for the foreseeable future — is clear and non-controversial. One can hope that at least one senator will be brave and conscientious enough to refuse the U/C request — something known as putting a “hold” on the bill. Holds, it should be recalled, are anonymous (and generally remain that way).

Barring that, it looks very possible that IRPSA [Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act], in some form, could become law before the end of the year, popular wisdom, good intentions, and good US policy be damned.

The Iran sanctions legislation “targets foreign companies that sell gasoline or other refined petroleum products to Iran; firms that provide ships, shipping services, or insurance for this trade; those that finance or broker such activity; as well as those assisting Iran’s effort to increase its domestic refining capacity.” One thing worth noting is that no one in Washington — on the right or left — seriously argues it will actually work to change Iran’s behavior. But this may be of secondary concern to legislators looking for a cheap and easy way to appear “tough” on Iran.

What the IRPSA sanctions will do, however, as members of Iran’s pro-democracy movement have warned, is inflict pain on Iran’s people and provide the embattled Iranian regime with precisely the scapegoat they need at precisely the moment they need it.

As Carnegie analyst Karim Sadjadpour told the Middle East Bulletin, the Green movement has been “trying to recruit as many people as possible under the tent of the green movement, including disaffected clerics and Revolutionary Guardsmen.” It’s hard to see how “crippling” unilateral sanctions like those contained in IRPSA would enhance the Green movement’s recruitment efforts.