A top U.N. expert is taking aim at the Trump administration’s efforts to tighten the screws on Iran’s theocratic regime, saying that U.S. sanctions are “illegitimate” and are driving Iranians into poverty.
The Trump administration has been criticized by members of both the U.N. and E.U. leaders for its decision this month to reimpose sanctions of the Islamic regime. The sanctions targeted Iran’s financial, automotive and precious metals industries and will also target its oil and banking system in November.
A senior administration official told Fox News this month that the restored sanctions are designed to constrict the revenue Iran uses to fund “terrorists, dictators, proxy militias, and the regime’s own cronies.”
But Idriss Jazairy a former Algerian ambassador who was appointed by the controversial U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as the special rapporteur “on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on enjoyment of human rights,” chose to direct his criticism at the U.S.
“The reimposition of sanctions against Iran after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, which had been unanimously adopted by the Security Council with the support of the U.S. itself, lays bare the illegitimacy of this action,” he said in the statement published Wednesday.
“International sanctions must have a lawful purpose, must be proportional, and must not harm the human rights of ordinary citizens, and none of these criteria is met in this case.”
The U.S. withdrew from the Human Rights Council this year, describing it as a “cesspool of political bias.” John Bolton said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that the U.S. will pull funding for the Council and the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR.)
Jazairy went onto claim that sanctions are driving millions into poverty.
“These unjust and harmful sanctions are destroying the economy and currency of Iran, driving millions of people into poverty and making imported goods unaffordable,” he said.
Jazairy’s statement infuriated Iranian dissidents, as well as some analysts, who said that he should be pointing his finger at the Iranian dictatorship rather than the U.S.
"What has broken the backbone of the Iranian economy is the consequence of the policies of the Iranian regime and institutionalized corruption, which has nothing to do with the sanctions," Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) told Fox News.
Iranian analyst Heshmat Alavi meanwhile raised the question of Iran's actions in Syria and said that Iran is spending "billions" there.
"Jazairy also won't tell you that #Iran intends to spend even more on reconstructing #Syria, not providing for ordinary Iranians back home," he tweeted.
Behnam Ben Taleblu a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington D.C, told Fox News that Jazairy’s views are out of touch with the Iranian people -- who are blaming their own government rather than the U.S.
“To paraphrase and borrow from the [Trump] administration, there is not a group that has suffered more at the hands of the regime in Tehran than the Iranian people. Iranian protesters, who chastise their own government and not the U.S. for their plight, rightly understand this.” He continued, “One only wishes that the U.N. system did too.”
Hillel Neuer, the executive director of the Swiss-based UN Watch -- an independent human rights monitoring group -- told Fox News that Iran was the country that sponsored the resolution on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement in 2014 that created the position that Jazairy now holds.
“That Jazairy serves as an expert of the UNHRC illustrates the moral corruption of the UNHRC, and underscores why U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley was absolutely right to call out the utter failure of the discredited council to reform itself.”
Jazairy’s comments come on the back of a statement from E.U. leaders, who said they “deeply regret” the U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions.
“The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the deal,” E.U. High Representative Federica Mogherini, along with French, German and British foreign ministers, said in a joint statement, vowing to “protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.”
In his statement, Jazairy applauded the opposition from the E.U.
“I am grateful for the efforts of the European Union in tackling this injustice, both through diplomatic efforts and through legislation to protect European companies from American sanctions. I sincerely hope that the international community can come together to see that the world does not become a battleground for generalized economic war,” he said.
But the administration has shrugged off the criticism, and is doubling down on its tough stance against the regime. Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of the Iran Action Group, which will direct, review and coordinate all aspects of Iran policy.
“Our hope is that one day soon we can reach a new agreement with Iran. But we must see major changes in the regime’s behavior both inside and outside of its borders,” he said in remarks at the State Department. “The Iranian people and the world are demanding that Iran finally act like a normal nation.”
Fox News’ Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.