Iran Sanctions and Migrant Caravans

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BY Evan Denny

News Editor

Iran Sanctions Resume

On Monday, the U.S. re-imposed all sanctions on Iran that once were lifted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, grinding further down on the Islamic Republic’s already-ailing economy in what President Hassan Rouhani described as a “war situation” now facing Tehran.

While previously warning it could ramp up its nuclear program, Iran still honors the atomic accord now limiting its enrichment of uranium, according to the United Nations.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed penalties on more than 700 Iranian and Iranian-linked individuals, entities, aircraft and vessels in the new sanctions. Among those are 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, more than 200 people and ships, Iran’s state-run airline Iran Air and more than 65 of its planes.

The new sanctions particularly hurt Iran’s vital oil industry, which provides a crucial source of hard currency. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists in Washington the sanctions already had cost Iran the sale of over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day.

The administration of President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise of tearing up the nuclear deal, insists it does not seek “regime change” in Iran through the sanctions. It says it wants Iran to radically change its policies, including its support for regional militant groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

“We have the toughest sanctions ever imposed but on oil we want to go a little bit slower because I don’t want to drive the oil prices in the world,” Trump said Thursday. “I could get the Iran oil down to zero immediately, but it would cause a shock to the market.”

Migrant Caravan

Thousands of exhausted migrants from the Central American caravan trudged along highways Monday toward Mexico City, where officials prepared a sports stadium to accommodate them as they try to reach the U.S. border, still hundreds of miles away.

But the group encountered obstacles on Monday. Truck after truck denied the migrants rides as they trudged miles along the highway, experiencing a taste of the colder weather of central Mexico. At a toll booth near Fortin, Veracruz, Rafael Leyva, an unemployed cobbler from Honduras, stood with a few hundred others for more than 45 minutes without finding a ride.

Migrants were seen grouping in front of tractor trailers, forcing the big rigs to stop so that fellow migrants could climb aboard.

It is unclear what part of the U.S. border the caravan will aim for eventually, or how many may splinter off on their own. Several hundred have pushed ahead to the central city of Puebla, while more streamed into Mexico City on Monday.

Many of the migrants said they remain convinced that traveling together is their best hope for reaching the U.S. The migrants generally say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Mexico’s Interior Ministry estimated over the weekend that there are more than 5,000 migrants in total currently moving through southern Mexico via the caravans or in smaller groups. The ministry said 2,793 migrants have applied for refugee status in Mexico in recent weeks and around 500 have asked for assistance to return to their home countries.

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to the Mexican border in response to the caravans, with more than 7,000 active duty troops earmarked to deploy to Texas, Arizona and California. Trump plans to sign an order that could lead to the large-scale detention of migrants crossing the southern border and that could bar anyone caught crossing illegally from claiming asylum.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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