The Real Story of Aleppo: Human Life vs. Corporate Profits
The situation in Aleppo is horrific. Every day, we see the Syrian regime committing war crimes against its own citizens, openly and without shame. It does this with proud support from Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, but also with the help of another country: the Islamic Republic of Iran. For this reason alone, the world should refuse to return to “business-as-usual” with Tehran.
As a result of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), many economic sanctions on Iran have been lifted, which gives corporations legal cover to do business with Tehran. While there are many reasons not to engage in such business, Iran’s role in the Syrian civil war should be at the top of the list.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, President Bashar al-Assad — as US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said in 2014 — has been:
deliberately targeting his own people – using indiscriminate air attacks, introducing the world to barrel bombs, denying civilians food in starvation campaigns and practicing systematic, industrial torture – all of this to force the Syrian people to submit to his will.
Since then, the situation in Syria has gotten much worse. The regime is bombing hospitals in Aleppo, openly massacring civilians and attacking humanitarian aid convoys (all with the help of Russia and Iran).
How has this happened?
For more than five years, the world has largely ignored Iran’s central role in the Syrian tragedy. Today, there are more than 470,000 dead and five million refugees, due to three culprits: Iran; its loyal proxy, Hezbollah; and Russia.
Since 2011, Iran has provided the Assad regime with massive financial support, an endless supply of ammunition and weapons and tens of thousands of fighters from its Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah and loyal Shia militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
Absent such support, Assad would have fallen from power (even before Russia put its military on the ground), and the Syrian tragedy would have long ago come to an end.
The world cannot claim that it does not know about Iran’s pivotal role in Syria. Reporters like Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker have written extensively about this, and United Against Nuclear Iran has provided a detailed report about it.
Now, with the easing of economic sanctions, hundreds of major multinational companies are eager to return to doing business in Iran. Since it is still designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, however, American companies are, by and large, still prohibited from doing do — with one major exception. According to the JCPOA, US aircraft manufacturers like Boeing will be allowed to sell commercial aircraft to Iran. And what will Iran use these new planes for?
There is little doubt that Tehran will use the new Boeing products — made in the US — to transport ammunition, weapons and fighters to Damascus, to help continue the slaughter of innocent Syrian civilians. Yet Boeing apparently doesn’t care; and it is not the only company looking to make a profit.
The French aircraft manufacturer Airbus is also eager to sell planes to Iran, and hundreds of major European companies are lining up to do business with the Islamic Republic. On October 2, German Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Tehran with a large trade delegation, hoping to promote business between the two countries.
A return to “business-as-usual” sends Iran the message that there is no consequence — and even an economic reward — for aiding the Syrian regime in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
Since the CEOs of these companies couldn’t care less about the tragedy of Aleppo and Iran’s role in Syria, it is up to us — citizens and activists — to convey a very different message: that human life is worth more than corporate profits.
Call these CEOs, call your representatives, and demand that we hold Iran accountable for its crimes.