Originally appeared at The American Conservative.
Iran has been seeking a loan from the International Monetary Fund for the first time in almost sixty years to help them fight the pandemic. The U.S. is expected to block the loan:
The US plans to block Iran’s requested $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund for funding Tehran says it needs to fight its coronavirus crisis.
Advocates for sanctions relief have also been calling for the IMF to approve this loan request in recognition that Iran needs all the resources it can get to get the pandemic under control. Hadi Ghaemi, an Iranian human rights activist, mentioned it in his appeal for sanctions relief last month:
Time is of the essence. The US government should immediately suspend all sanctions that affect the delivery of humanitarian goods to Iran, including banking sanctions on Iran, and vote yes on the $5 billion emergency funding Iran has requested from the International Monetary Fund.
The official excuse for blocking the loan is that the administration assumes that Iran doesn’t need the loan and granting the loan will allow them to divert other funds to support for proxies. This is a very tired excuse, and one that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Iran’s government has every incentive to bring the outbreak under control. The assumption that they will use the loan as an opportunity to send more money to their proxies relies on a cartoonish, ideological view of the country. Iran hawks assume that Iran wants to exploit the pandemic to engage in more “adventurism” because that is what they have been hoping to do. Iran hawks think that this is their best chance to bring about regime change, and they are willing to let the pandemic consume many thousands of innocent lives to that end.