Iran Speaker Says Muslim Nations Should Unite Against 'Cruel' U.S. Sanctions

The speaker of the Iranian parliament has called on Muslim nations to stand alongside Tehran in the face of what he described as "cruel and illegal" sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump's administration this month.

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf told Azhar Azizan Harun—the speaker of Malaysia's House of Representatives—on Monday that Malaysia and other Muslim nations should push back against America's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran, the state-backed Press TV reported.

The U.S. announced earlier in October it would blacklist 18 Iranian banks that had previously been spared the worst of the sanctions campaign, effectively cutting the country off from the international financial market.

Iranian officials warned this would affect the country's ability to import much-needed humanitarian and medical supplies, even as it faces a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

"In the current situation where everyone is grappling with the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. regime has imposed cruel and illegal sanctions against the Iranian nation, which we expect the friendly and Muslim countries not to comply with," Qalibaf said Monday.

"Iran and Malaysia, as two important countries in the Muslim world, should expand cooperation to bolster solidarity among Muslim nations and avoid division," he added.

Qalibaf's Malaysian counterpart replied that Malaysian officials "do not recognize illegal bans, which are not in compliance with the United Nations' resolutions."

The U.S. has been forging ahead in its campaign against Iran despite a lack of international support.

The Trump administration tried and failed to press fellow United Nations security council members into extending an arms embargo on Iran that expired on Sunday, warning that its lapse would allow Iran to expand its support of regional proxy forces.

The U.S. also sought UN support to use a snapback mechanism in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—widely known as the Iran nuclear deal—to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

But UN Security Council members, including U.S. allies and JCPOA signatories, refused to support the move, arguing that the U.S. could not use JCPOA mechanisms since Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

Regardless, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. has unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Iran and threatened consequences for any nations doing business with Tehran.

Iranian officials have repeatedly called for sanctions relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. Iran was the first country outside of China to suffer a significant outbreak.

To date, Iran has reported more than 30,700 deaths and more than 534,000 infections, according to Johns Hopkins University. Foreign observers claim the true number could be higher.

U.S. officials said the sanctions include allowances for humanitarian and medical aid, but human rights groups and analysts have noted that targeting Iran's banks leaves the regime with few conduits through which to import such goods.

Iran, sanctions, US, cruel, currency, Muslims
This file photo shows Iranians checking a display board at a currency exchange shop in the capital Tehran, Iran on September 29, 2020. ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty