US Is Extending Iran Sanctions ReliefOn September 28, 2017, White House officials announced that the U.S. is extending sanctions relief for Iran implemented by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The nuclear deal was coordinated by the international community and ended crippling economic sanctions against Iran by the United States, European Union and United Nations, in exchange for Iran reducing its nuclear capabilities for 10 years and limiting uranium enrichment for 15 years. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has been upholding its end of the deal.

The relief from key economic sanctions under the JCPOA plays an important role in Iran’s future economic sustainability. The sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program limited the nation’s ability to engage in trade and its access to oil revenue and international financial institutions. This contributed to a recession in 2012 and 2013 that saw Iran’s GDP growth decline by 6.6 percent in 2012. Inflation rose to over 30 percent, resulting in dramatic price hikes in food and basic necessities, and more than a fifth of the country was left unemployed.

Though the Iran deal is still in its infancy, it has already had significant impacts on Iran’s economy. World Bank estimates place Iran GDP growth at 6.4 percent and is projected to grow by over 4 percent from 2017-2019. Projections by the World Bank show significant boosts in oil production and other industries and potential growth in women’s employment.

The Iran deal also has the potential to fuel Iran’s development goals. Sanctions were lifted a month before Iran’s parliamentary elections and were touted as a significant victory of Iran’s moderate leadership. The elections resulted in large gains for development-minded moderates and economic reformers and significant losses for Iranian conservatives.

However, the sanctions relief for Iran remain controversial stateside. Though President Trump has chosen to continue maintaining the Iran deal, he has called the Iran deal “one of the worst deals” in history, and signaled that the U.S. is extending Iran sanctions relief temporarily and may withdraw or renegotiate the deal come October.

Furthermore, President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson believe that Iran is not complying with “the spirit” of the deal due to its ballistic missile tests, cyber activities and continued backing of terrorist groups, though no clause in the JCPOA forbids Iran from engaging in these actions. Nonetheless, the White House announced new sanctions outside of the Iran deal on several Iranian individuals and entities connected to malicious Iranian cyber activities.

Carson Hughes

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Zambia
The U.S. government has reported serious issues of human rights in Zambia. In order to increase accountability, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. These reports are to now be made annually and made public.

By compiling Human Rights Reports, the U.S. embassies work to help improve not only their own human rights issues but also those of nations globally. The intention of these reports is to reflect the U.S.’s commitment to improving human rights around the world. Such commitment provides an example for other nations to follow.

In these reports, the U.S. government observed serious human rights issues in Zambia and looks to improve on these records. One area that is to have major emphasis is with media freedom. With officials limiting, censoring, or taking action—sometimes violent action—against media services such as radio stations or journalists that were deemed critical of the ruling party, the U.S. seeks the opportunity to step in.

Other serious issues noted are abuse by police, including unnecessary killings and beatings, gender-based violence, government corruption and child abuse. The U.S. is poised to support initiatives that promote stability of law and freedoms

Recent efforts made by the U.S. in support of human rights in Zambia include donations of $403 million against HIV/AIDS, over $4 million to civil society monitoring groups and to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to allow for better elections and plans to strengthen Zambia’s U.N. Universal Periodic Review processes as well as better implementation of the Public Order Act.

With U.S.’s help, action is now being taken by the government to monitor these issues at the local level.

After police used live ammunition to disperse protesters in Chawama Township in the capital of Lusaka, killing Mapenzi Chibulo, a young supporter of the United Party for National Development (UPND), UPND leaders Hakainde Hichilema and Geoffrey Mwamba were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and seditious practices, following a brief meeting with party supporters at a village in Mpongwe District.

Recently, the printing presses of The Post newspaper were seized by the tax authorities and its operations were shut down. When police beat and arrested editor-in-chief Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta Mazoka-M’membe and deputy mmanaging editor Joseph Mwenda, those involved with the beatings were charged with abuse.

Small strides are being made toward human rights in Zambia, despite ongoing issues. The continued support of such strides is important and provides an example for human rights around the world.

Tucker Hallowell

Photo: Flickr