US sanction policy can end dollar supremacy: Case study of Iran’s charitable organization, EIKO
A decade after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Islamic Republic’s first leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, signed an edict shortly before his demise in 1989 to pave the way for the formation of “Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam” – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam, - or more popularly known as the Execution of Imam Khomeini's Order (EIKO).
After the 1979 revolution in Iran, many of the officials or associates of the former regime escaped from the ruling and took refuge abroad. Under the new constitution, Setad spawned to manage the abandoned properties and use them at the service of the poor and people in need.
EIKO (also known as Setad) is one of the largest service organizations in Iran and can be seen as a major National Charity.
Setad has been active in a wide range of public service activities from education to healthcare and housing.
1. Constructing 1000 schools with 5650 classrooms, in addition to concluding a contract to construct 1357 school in poor regions has made Setad the second largest organization after Ministry of Education, which constructs schools in poor regions all over the country.
The schools facilitate education for more than 100,000 students who pursue their studies in Barkat Schools. These constructions cost more than 7000 billion IR. Rials.
2. Covering education costs of students in poor regions and low income families is one of the main strategies of Setad. This includes providing facilities and stationery for more than 200,000 students for five years.
1. While the world currently witnesses accelerated rates of cancer, effective early recognition is not available for lower classes; therefore, the illness may grow to a critical threshold where very little, if any, can be done to prevent or cure affected cells. To overcome this problem, Setad started the construction of 4 centers of Cancer Recognition & Treatment, along with 11 hospitals, and 153 Health Care Centers in poor regions all over the country with an investment of 5830 billion IR. Rials. This investment prioritizes the lower and marginalized classes in country.
2. Setad provides more than 20 different Heath Care Electronic Services for patients and peoples in need at poor rural areas. The most important of these services is establishing an Electronic Health Care Record. Moreover, this program includes production of technical alternatives to replace X-Ray Films used in Radiology, using Smart Bed in poor regions, sending multimedia health care messages to users, and establishing a 24+7 Call Center to answer questions related to health care in those regions. The program covers more than 350,000 people by 5 different centers all over the country.
3. Fighting Infertility of young couples is also one of the focus points in Setad's strategies. Setad has managed to help 273 young couples to overcome infertility. This changed the lives of more than 200 families. Setad rapidly expanded its investments in this field.
4. Setad recently started the construction of the largest hospital in Iran and the Middle East, in order to improve illness recognition and treatment. At least half of the capacity of this hospital, with 1000 beds, will be dedicated to poor and marginalized people under Setad's charity coverage, therefore the hospital will be the largest charity health care center in Iran.
Helping the people hit by natural catastrophes
1. Iran is prone to natural catastrophes like earthquakes. For example, 6 years ago, Setad was among the first organizations to provide relief services for people in Varzaghan. The region was hit by a 6.2 earthquake in 2012. Another example is the recent 7.2 earthquake in Kermanshah province. Barkat Foundation, was available to provide relief services from the very first day. Such included covering basic needs like hundred trailers of clean and drinkable water, 30,000 cans of milk powder for newborn children, 100 tons of cloths, tens of thousands of blankets, hundreds of tent and heaters, and more than 100 connexes for temporary accommodations. Setad also voluntarily repairs all damaged schools in several cities hit by earthquake, in addition to the construction of several schools by investing more than 250 billion IR. Rials.
2. Setad as a major charity foundation extends its activities to fight deforestation in Iran, especially in southern provinces like Khuzestan, to prevent dust waves that cause tremendous problems in those regions. To reach that aim, Setad has invested 280 billion IR. Rials to help 1000 hectares of plantation and will continue the program to 3000 hectares next year. Another environmental program is its contribution to keep gardens and urban Green Space per capita, in order to prevent the destruction of this national treasure.
Housing & construction
1. Another important program of Setad is to provide home for low-income and marginalized class of society. By far, it managed to conclude contracts to construct 21500 homes with 800 billion IR. Rials, and 11000 homes are now available. Setad also invests in civil infrastructure like water and power supply, road construction, and etc., which includes 3130 billion IR. Rials of investment. Up to present, about half of these programs have been finalized.
2. Construction of cultural and religious buildings in poor regions of country, is among Setad's priorities as a social institute. This national charity foundation by far concluded contracts to build 814 Mosques, Prayer Rooms (Mosalla), and residence for religious teachers in remote rural regions, and also constructed centers for religious educations. Among these, 800 projects have been finalized by a 950 billion IR. Rials investment.
Insurance & social protection services
1. Barkat Insurance is also part of Setad's protective programs for in-need groups. It covers all costs of damages to low income class and poor people in rural areas caused by natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, typhoons, heavy rain and snow and also fire insurance for homes, in addition to complementary health care insurance. This program has been preceded by education and the introduction of insurance services in less developed areas. The overall cost of this program was 120 billion IR. Rials in 23 different provinces which covers 2050 villages. It also includes 320,000 insurance contracts for 670,000 individuals, among which 200,000 were orphan children and 470,000 are villagers that received complementary insurance for health care.
2. Another portion of charity activities of Setad includes covering all the expenses of patients who receive no funds from other charity institutes for costly and hard treatments. This program brings 45000 in-need patients under its protection. In a similar program, Setad has paid all the costs for expensive treatments of 2000 deaf children whose families cannot afford the costs of treatment.
3. Setad (EIKO) has set its goals to improve and enhance different social and charity services for marginalized people and on this regard, we expect to see more of its protective activities in the near future.
Sanctions on Iran
With all the above mentioned public services targeting the people in need, Setad has always been under radar as a favorite target for Iran hawks and Neocons in the US to come under the sanction umbrella.
The anti-Iran lobbyists in the US Congress, Senate, and White House have could persuade the US officials to include Setad’s name in the list of imposed sanctions on the country. With Trump withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, the sanctions lifted under Iran’s nuclear deal (JCPOA), are back into motion again. Every now and then, a new organization in Iran comes under the light to step up pressure on the country.
Writing on UNZ Review, former CIA officer, Philip Giraldi says:
“Leading the charge against EIKO, inevitably, has been renowned neocon Canadian import and Iranophobe Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who has described how the Iranian leadership controls a vast business empire which must be targeted with U.S. sanctions to punish the government and strip it of the resources available to make mischief.”
“There has been some pushback against the war-by-sanctions approach currently being advanced by the Trump Administration. Robert Fantina of Counterpunch has rejected the depiction of EIKO as anything but a charitable foundation. The truth is that EIKO engages in major social projects, including rural poverty alleviation, empowering women, home and school building, and provision of healthcare. American sanctions against it and similar entities hit ordinary Iranians’ lives by producing food insecurity while also restricting the supplies of needed medications.”
Ending dollar supremacy
Independent countries have always been under economic sanctions of dollar based economy. It is safe to say Iran and Russia have been the favorable countries to leverage economic war against from hawks in the US. As a Bloomberg report reads, currently 700 Russian officials are under US sanctions. While the sources for the hostility against Russia is the 2014 crisis in Ukraine and “Russian interference” in 2016 US Presidential elections; Iran has been attacked for the alleged support of terrorism and never existing nuclear weapons program.
David Swanson writes in the article titled, “Sanctions Are Crimes, Not Law Enforcement”:
The U.S. does not present sanctions as tools of murder and cruelty, but that's what they are. The Russian and Iranian people are already suffering under U.S. sanctions, the Iranians most severely. But both take pride in and find resolve in the struggle, just as do people under military attack. In Russia, the sanctions are actually benefitting agriculture, just as they have done in Cuba. Necessity is the mother of food production. Still, the suffering is widespread and real. Reinforcing the blockade on Cuba is a criminal action that will lead to deaths (including the deaths of U.S. citizens denied access to Cuban medicines).
As the tide of anti-Iran and anti-Russia hysteria among western elites and presstitutes doesn’t seem to turn down any time soon, the two countries have to strengthen economic ties to neutralize the US sanction terrorism. Iran and Russia should take advantage of the mounting trade war between China and the US to boost the struggles of ending dollar supremacy by substituting it with their own currencies. The member countries of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization have the potential to join the struggle.
With the deepening of discrepancies between European countries and the US, Europe is no longer reluctant to leave the US alone. It’s time to isolate the US economically.
*Ahmad Noroozi is a PhD candidate of Media Management at Tehran University and political commentator. He can be reached via @noroozee.