Consequences of Iranian Sanctions Removal


Iran is en route to ramping up its oil production and exportation to pre-sanction levels. Back in 2018, the United States, under the Trump administration, left the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA). The exiting of the JPCOA was precipitated by a lack of transparency regarding Iran’s nuclear program and other violations of the agreement. Additionally, the JPCOA was a flawed deal that all but ensured Iran would be able to obtain nuclear weapons on an extended timeline. In effect, the JPCOA offered Iran economic concessions in exchange for a temporary delay in nuclear weapons development.

Under the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, Iran’s oil exportation dropped from 2.6 million barrels of oil each day to 385,000 barrels of oil per day. According to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, these sanctions put significant pressure on Tehran, hampering the regime’s primary economic resource. This pressure was serving as a means to persuade Tehran against pursuing nuclear weapons, imperialist expansion in the Middle East, funding terrorist attacks, and continuing its long history of human rights abuses.

However, presently under the Biden administration, the United States has begun lifting these sanctions in an effort to reenter a deal similar to the JPCOA. In practice, the negotiations surrounding the new deal with Iran have shaped an agreement much less favorable to the United States and significantly more beneficial to Iran and Russia. Presently, Iran has announced that its oil production and exportation are on the rise. The Islamic Republic announced that it is now producing 3.8 million barrels of oil per day, claiming it could reach full production within a couple of months. Even if this is an exaggeration by Tehran, it indicates the regime is on the economic rebound as a consequence of relaxed sanctions under the Biden administration. Moreover, under Biden’s new Iran deal, the clerical regime will gain access to nearly $131 billion in foreign assets.

The revenue that Iran stands to generate from increased oil sales is greatly increased due to the high oil prices currently in place around the world. As the United States continues to play in Iran’s favor, Tehran’s authoritarian regime stands to grow in power. Organizations researching foreign policy such as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies report Iran’s government has a long record of perpetuating human rights abuses, seeking regional expansion, funding terror attacks against the west, and pursuing nuclear weapons to aid in achieving its goals.

If the United States allows Iran to regenerate its primary economic engine, oil exportation, then Iran is being given the resources and the green light to continue with its pernicious aims. Moreover, the current deal being worked out between the United States and Iran does not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them over long ranges. Iran has been acting as an ally to Russia and China, and these developments regarding sanctions and oil only serve to strengthen this anti-American alliance. None of these developments benefit the United States’ national interests or the interests of the region Iran occupies. 


Iran in Latin America


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For decades, Latin America has been utilized by Iran as a hotbed for generating terrorist activities to facilitate Tehran’s political aims. Some areas in Latin America remain ripe with drug trafficking, cartel operations, and other illicit activities. 

These loosely controlled areas with inconsistent or corrupt political control, in combination with sympathetic Shiite populations in regions such as in Columbia, provide grounds for Iran to carry out their foreign policy aims against their ideological opponents. This list of opponents includes a number of Western entities, but the United States and Israel have been Iran’s primary targets. Latin America also provides Iran with a region to carry out terrorist plots with a smaller chance of large-scale retribution from their ideological adversaries. Despite this history, terrorist activity in Latin America does not receive significant public attention.

Back in 2020, the United States carried out an airstrike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was the architect behind many Iranian-sponsored terrorist plots and human-rights abuses in the Middle East and abroad. At the time, Iran had been launching rocket attacks and other operations against United States forces in Iraq. In response to the death of Soleimani, Iran and Hezbollah promised retribution

Over the past couple of years, Iran has attempted to carry out terrorist attacks, but these attacks were foiled and failed to come to fruition. These planned attacks were to be carried out against U.S. and Israeli targets. The targets included prominent U.S. and Israeli businessmen and their families, diplomats, embassies, and other interests. Iran and Hezbollah have well-developed networks within Latin America and the Middle East. Using these networks, Iran can continue to both recruit for, and resource future terrorist plots.

A number of these intended attacks were to take place in Latin America and Columbia, according to monitoring organizations such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In one case, Hezbollah operatives involved had previously been expelled from Columbia but were able to return. Drug trafficking operations have been used to facilitate transferring money, personnel, and storing weapons caches for Iranian operatives. 

These operations are at times aided by a number of Shiite mosques in Latin America, many of which are under the influence of Hezbollah and Iranian friendly religious leaders. Often the corruption-ripe justice systems of Latin American countries enable terrorists to avoid prosecution, with terrorist agents being sent back to Iran or other countries instead, as reported by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

There has been a long history, especially active in recent years, of Iranian-sponsored terrorist activity in Latin America. These terrorist activities target U.S. and Israeli interests. With this in mind, it is increasingly likely Iran will attempt further terrorist attacks in the near future, with United States and Israeli personal and interests as the prime targets. These Iranian terrorist plots tend to receive minimal media attention compared to terrorist activities in other regions, which helps keep Latin America a desired area for continued Iranian involvement.  Latin America will serve as Iran’s ideological warzone in the years to come. 

Iran and Trade with the European Union

Iran trade deal


The European Union (EU) invested a considerable amount of resources and political capital into arranging the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) initiated under the Obama Administration. A few years later, the EU also tried hard to prevent former President Trump from withdrawing from the JPCOA. 


Currently, with President Biden in office, the EU is once again moving toward positioning itself as the middle man between the Iranian regime and Washington. Given the EU’s continued investment in nuclear and trade policy with Iran, it begs the question, what does the EU stand to gain from the outcome of this arrangement?


If a deal similar to the JPCOA were to be reenacted between Washington and Tehran, sanctions would be softened, facilitating trade between Iran and Europe. EU states opposed Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, which placed restrictive sanctions on Iran. However, Trump’s maximum pressure sanctions had about the same impact on Iran-European Union trading as the multilateral sanctions did before the JPCOA was enacted. As far as the EU is concerned, Trump’s sanctions serve as a return to the status quo of restricted trade with Iran. The JPCOA represented an opportunity to change this ‘norm.’ 


Moreover, while EU states have access to many trading partners, Iran does not. If sanctions were to be lifted or softened, states in the EU would benefit financially from a more exclusive trading arrangement with Iran. A large part of the impact of sanctions is related to limiting the importation of crude oil from Iran. The JPCOA softened sanctions on Iran, opening up avenues for EU states to gain financially from the treaty through trade and investment opportunities.


Foreign policy researchers indicate that other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, stand to gain from sanctions on Iran. See here for more information on foreign policy research. With oil exports from Iran restricted, other countries such as those in the EU turn to Saudi Arabia for crude oil imports. About 46 percent of oil exports from Saudi Arabia go to the EU. A given country’s position toward sanctions with Iran can reflect what they stand to gain or lose.


The lifting of sanctions provides the EU with an opportunity for financial investment and trade with Iran. During the height of sanctions with Iran, both before the JPCOA and during Trump’s presidency, EU trade with Iran dropped significantly. Additionally, Iran imports goods from the EU. With sanctions in place, the EU is faced with a negative economic impact due to restrictions on importation.


According to experts on international sanctions such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, states in the EU stand to gain and seek to open up with Iran. This, despite the negative consequences of less restrictive sanctions policies. The lifting of sanctions and returning to an arrangement similar to the JPCOA trade could empower the Iranian regime and facilitate their nuclear weapons ambitions. 


With renewed trade and a growing economy, the theocratic regime in Iran would be bolstered and strengthened. This strengthening of political capital in combination with greater financial resources would provide Tehran with the means to grow its military and nuclear capabilities to dominate the Middle East and further perpetuate terrorist attacks and human rights abuses.

Biden has No Iran Policy


Over the past several months, the Islamic Republic of Iran has increased its uranium enrichment closer to bomb purity levels, approaching 60%. Additionally, the Iranian regime has further blocked the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) from being able to observe or investigate Iran’s nuclear-related activities. Iran maintains confidential nuclear sites and other related facilities that are not monitored or reported on by any third-party organization. Recent reports suggest that Iran could be as close as one month away from possessing sufficient weapons-grade uranium to produce nuclear weapons. What has the Biden administration been doing about this?

The Biden administration began its term with the intention of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) originally instituted by the Obama administration and later withdrawn from by Trump in 2018. However, six rounds of negotiations later combined with Iran’s continued advancement of its nuclear weapons production; President Biden appears to be still willing to lift sanctions further or allow weapons advancements just for the opportunity to talk with Iran. Iran appears to be gaining desired concessions from the U.S. without providing anything in return.

Historically, American diplomatic relations with the Iranian regime have been characterized by Washington conceding first and Iran achieving the upper hand. Biden appears to be aimed at continuing this pattern. At this point, Tehran does not appear interested in reentering the JCPOA as it was. Moreover, Tehran is trying to extort further concessions from the United States and its allies in order to simply enter discussions. Given that President Biden has already eased sanctions on Iranian oil exportation without Iran producing anything in return, it appears likely Biden is going to produce further concessions just to get Iran to talk. 

According to a think tank in defense of democracy, following the leadership of the Biden administration, the world appears to be approaching a time where the Islamic Republic’s nuclearization and domination of the Middle East are accepted as the status quo. It has become clear over the past eight months that Biden is not willing to take a hardline against Tehran’s nuclear weaponization or regional domination. As such, in all likelihood, Iran will soon reach a point where it can easily realize its nuclear and regional dominance-related aims. According to organizations that report on nuclear weapons proliferation, such as Foundation for Defence of Democracies, soon there will be no turning back.

Consequently, a nuclear-armed Iran will dominate the Middle East. The United States and other countries will no longer have the ability to significantly influence the region. Other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Israel are strongly interested in limiting Iranian nuclear capabilities, however, they may not have the ability to change Iran’s trajectory. While the current U.S. president and his team may be averse to wielding American power, their current stance will lead to the U.S. becoming unable to wield power in the future. With a region as important as the Middle East at the political whim of the Iranian regime, this will only spell problems for the region and much of the world in the future.

Iran’s New Fanatical President Ebrahim Raisi


A new president has been elected in Iran. Ebrahim Raisi was selected by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and this selection will serve to further an environment of fear among Iranians who do not support the existing theocracy. Together, President Ebrahim Raisi and Khamenei will support each other’s fanatical dispositions and perpetuation of Iranian intervention in the Middle East, nuclear weapons development, and increased antagonistic relationships with Israel and Arab states near the Persian Golf. The two leaders serve as theocratic ideologues intending to further the Iranian regime’s authoritarian aims and to destroy any opposition to the regime within Iran.

Ebrahim Raisi is preceded by his reputation for ruthless behavior and fanatical support of the Islamic Republic’s theocratic regime. Moreover, Raisi is positioned as a likely successor to Khamenei, who is over 80 years old. According to the FDD organization, Raisi’s political career has demonstrated his alignment with Khamenei’s policies and principles of theocratic authoritarian government. Key to Raisi’s policy portfolio is his lack of opposition regarding Iran returning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) agreement with the United States. Raisi’s closeness to the supreme leader and his alignment with Khamenei’s policies will help him consolidate power enabling his ascension when the supreme leader passes away. 

Both Khamenei and Raisi understand Iran’s need for large amounts of cash. According to the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, sanctions imposed by the United States have crippled the Iranian regime’s funding used to perpetuate its illicit activities. These activities include nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development, interventionism in the Middle East, and the proliferation of terrorist activities. Reestablishing the terms of the JPCOA will provide Iran with a much-needed cash flow of funds from the U.S., in addition to cash flow to be generated from lifting sanctions.

Raisi has also stated his intentions regarding key Iranian policies. Raisi is unwilling to negotiate or compromise regarding Iran’s ambition to develop ballistic missiles or Iran’s regional expansion or intervention in the Middle East. Raisi was acting in primary national security positions prior to his ascension. His policies have been reflected in Iran’s actions over recent years. Moreover, Ebrahim Raisi intensely dislikes the neighboring Arab monarchies and other states in the Middle East. This includes a strong dislike for Saudi Arabia and the active promotion of anti-Semitism and the destruction of Israel. Additionally, the new president has stated his unwillingness to meet with Biden.

With the ascension of Raisi, the tone of the Islamic Republic for the foreseeable future has been set. This includes fanatical support for nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development, greater regional control in the Middle East, terrorism support, further human rights abuses, and a hostile stance towards Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other states. The Biden administration should observe this development and take this into consideration in handling Iran and regarding rejoining the JPCOA. Any curtailing of Iran’s nefarious activities will come as a consequence of the United States and allied policies, not from within the regime’s leadership. Rejoining the JPCOA will only enable Iran’s theocratic leaders to succeed in their destructive and destabilizing goals.

The Biden Administration Must Choose with Iran



Currently, negotiations are underway to attempt to find a replacement deal for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). More specifically, the new Biden administration is trying to find a way to make the Islamic Republic of Iran return to the terms of the now-defunct JCPOA. At the moment, the negotiations are centered around what the United States and the West will pay or give to Iran in order for Iran to consent to return to the severely flawed JCPOA deal.

Iran is the world’s most prolific sponsor of state-backed terrorism. Unfortunately, a return to the JCPOA would only provide Iran with a clear path toward obtaining nuclear weapons in the future while simultaneously being given significant sums of money and economic relief by the West. The Center on Military and Political Power reports that this outcome provides the Iranian regime with everything it desires. The Iranian government is currently facing an economic crisis with dwindling reserves. Additionally, Iran’s primarily uranian enrichment facility experienced an explosion recently, further setting back Iran’s ability to achieve its nuclear ambitions. According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reentering the JCPOA alone would provide Iran with both a pathway to economic recovery and nuclear weapons in the future. It is not clear why it would be advantageous for the West or the Iranian people for the regime to be economically strengthened and given nuclear weapons capabilities.

Reentering the JCPOA does not provide the United States or the West with any tangible benefit nor leverage over Iran. Each of the items that the Iranian government is struggling with stands as potential leverage for the United States and the West. However, the Biden administration is not utilizing any of these options as leverage in the current negotiations.

Iran is successfully wielding the threat of nuclear escalation to exploit the West into yielding significant economic concessions via sanction relief, payment, and reentering the defunct JCPOA deal. Re-entering the JCPOA  will enable the regime to legally begin using advanced nuclear centrifuges and grow their enrichment capabilities. The likelihood of this outcome has been observed by many organizations. When the restrictions from the JCPOA sunset over the next several years, Iran will have everything in place needed to begin nuclear weapons production while receiving massive economic aid to bolster the government in the meantime. Even during the 2015 JCPOA agreement, Iran violated the terms by advancing its nuclear production capabilities; therefore, any sunsetting nuclear limitations that are reentered with the Biden administration are not likely to be followed. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently found the Iranian regime has been hiding non-disclosed nuclear materials.

The old JCPOA deal needs to be fixed before Biden considers reentering the deal with Iran. The sunsetting provisions need to be addressed. Iran’s past and current violations of the deal need to be reconciled. A new deal should address Iran’s production of nuclear materials, nuclear weaponization, and their means for delivering nuclear weapons. All three of these items must be addressed for a deal to have any hope of curbing Iran’s nuclear goals. The United States should permanently end Iran’s path toward acquiring nuclear weapons and not enable Iran to obtain nuclear armament.

Emerging Challenge to U.S. Cyber Security from Iran and Russia

foundation for defense of democracies

Russia and Iran have formally partnered to expand their joint communications technology and cyber warfare capabilities. These increased cyber capabilities constitute an emerging significant threat to the United States and the international community. In addition to signifying an emerging threat internationally, the increased cyber capabilities of these authoritarian regimes constitute a threat to the citizens of their own countries. This joint agreement will aid their governments in both suppressing dissent within their own borders as well as in expanding their capabilities to interfere with Western systems of free and open use of the internet.

The agreement will help Russia and Iran facilitate cybersecurity, cyberwarfare, exchange of technologies, training, and coordination of efforts toward interfering with the international community. Additionally, implied in this agreement is the sharing of information regarding U.S. cyber operations and capabilities. This sharing of information creates an additional security threat to the U.S. and its allies. Within Russia and Iran, think tanks including the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies report this agreement will help facilitate the authoritarian governments’ building of surveillance states within their own countries. Shared advancements in technology, cyberinfrastructure, and technology training will enable the surveillance of civilians and political dissent to become more feasible and pernicious. Russia and Iran have also agreed to assist each other in developing software and technology resources based in their own countries, as opposed to in the West which is currently the norm. This includes developing alternatives to common western computer operating systems such as Windows, internet hosting, as well as other software platforms and internet technologies.

Through shared technology, training, and resources, Russia and Iran will be able to further authoritarian aims at home and abroad. According to The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a leading think tank in DC, this agreement includes the presentation of mutually favorable media coverage, producing favorable media content, imposing counter-narratives to Western media, and cooperation in targeting media toward western audiences. Overall, the agreement will perpetuate greater authoritarian state influence and control of the open internet.

At present, United States’ cyber capabilities are not optimally effective. Members of the United States Congress and the Government Accountability Office have been critical of U.S. cyber capabilities, highlighting their problems and inadequacies. There are known issues with interagency coordination and cooperation, underfunding, and other problems. 

In order to counter the growing authoritarian cyber threat, the Biden administration will need to allocate resources and provide the leadership necessary for the United States to maintain a strong and unified cyber defense capability. Organizations promoting the defense of democracies argue that if regimes like that of Russia and Iran get their way, international use of free and open internet may become compromised. 

Russia and Iran are aiming to further their ability to control what is presented on the internet for international and domestic media consumption and to spread propagandistic narratives to further their own interests and control their own populations. While conventional military threats often garner the most popular attention, cyber threats also pose a significant threat to the Western way of life. Cyber threats require attention, funding, and support in order to be properly addressed.




Iran’s Growing Air Defense Capability

Iran recently conducted a significant military air defense drill showcasing its newly updated air defense systems. This has been a significant military arms-related event among several in recent years, along with Iran’s attempt to ship ballistic missiles to Venezuela. This drill included the use of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), radars, launchers, and command-and-control technology, according to a leading nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security. In the past, international focus has been on Iran’s capability to make offensive war, this drill shifts the spotlight onto its equally impactful defensive capabilities. Iran has positioned its air defense systems over many locations within the country, and top leaders of an organization following foreign policy argue that confidence in home-based air defense creates an understanding that any retaliation from opponents is less likely. This, in turn, provides Iran more freedom to realize any ambitions for offensive action in the region.

The drill, named “Defenders of the Velayat’s Skies-99” is one of a series of joint drills conducted by the Iranian military’s air defense branches. The use of Iran’s air defense capabilities in military drills has become an increasing priority over the past several years. The effectiveness of their new air defense systems was highlighted when Iran destroyed an American drone in 2019 and accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner more recently in 2020.

It makes sense that Iran has decided to display large-scale military drills while it is hampered by sanctions and the potential for domestic unrest due to the coronavirus. Public military drills serve as a primary means of deterrence to any aggressor that would be assuming a degree of weakened capability from the Iranian regime, according to a Washington-based think tank. Iran’s military displays also serve as a message to the United States to back down from its intent to stymy Iran’s oppressive regime.

While Defenders of the Velayat’s Skies-99 should be taken seriously, Iran’s air defense capabilities are still limited. The United States and its allies have the capability to defeat Iran’s current air defense technology. Nonetheless, Iran’s defenses are becoming more effective, and presently constitute an additional layer of difficulty for any potential attacker, as well as some degree of deterrence.

Iran’s air defense drill is also indicative of potential future problems for the region. Russia has signaled its willingness to sell its more effective S-400 SAM air defense system. If Iran were to purchase this system, its ability to shoot down aircraft will be augmented. This would provide the capability to target aircraft in regions further outside of Iran and along international trading routes. Given the apparent failure of the international community to limit Iran’s arms imports and other limitations, this creates additional concern. Enforcement of Iran’s weapon embargo has been largely unsuccessful internationally. 

Given Iran’s recent air defense drill and the possibility of Iran gaining access to the S-400 SAM air defense system, it is important that this situation is taken with seriousness. Top experts on Iran warn that such a move could provide Iran greater freedom to militarily expand in the region, and impose on international trade. The United States and the international community need to make a concerted and effective effort to halt Iran’s regional and military ambitions. Efforts so far to curb Iran’s military technology growth have been insufficient.

Iran and Turkey in Lock Step

Despite Turkey recognizing Israel as a nation in 1949 and Iran’s recognition in 1950, they are outspoken critics of the 2020 UAE-Israel peace deal according to recent reporting on Iran from experts on Middle Eastern and Iranian government. In the epitome of an August surprise, the agreement brokered by the U.S. left President Trump detractors shocked. The shock comes not only from the lack of leaks surrounding the deal, but also its proof that stability in the Middle East is not exclusively contingent upon a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine.

Both Iran and Turkey reacted contentiously to the historic deal for which President Trump was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The deal potentially thwarts the plan of both Arab states to further destabilize the area according to foreign policy research organizations reporting on the oppressive situation in Iran. Turkey’s encroachment into Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Qatar to Iran’s proxy war waged in Afghanistan; both countries remain active. Both use Palestine as the basis for why they oppose the deal, and they are not alone in their opposition. However, they and the greater region benefit from the agreement.

Significant Moves Yield Major Benefits 

For instance, the deal requires Israel to halt its annexation plan for portions of the West Bank for which Palestine claims ownership. This is a concession for Israel and Netanyahu, in particular, who leverage the annexation plan as the impetus for his re-election campaign. Additionally, the UAE seeks to acquire advanced U.S. weapons systems and military jets as a component of the deal. Israel is hesitant to support the latter for fear that those items could fall into the wrong hands. Currently, they are the only ones in the area with stealth warplanes and other U.S. military weapons.

Research conducted by the foreign policy group, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and substantiated by numerous news stories report that the acquisition of military weapons by the UAE is still a subject for debate. What is established is the normalization that is already taking place and is expected to develop. Unlike Egypt and Jordan, Israel and the UAE were never at war so the emphasis is on shared benefits as opposed to maintaining peace. Some of those benefits include doing business deals, exchanging intelligence, sharing technology, and generating wealth through new investment. The latest news from FDD, a research group focusing on Iranian government policy, agrees with those benefits along with the fact that a collaborative effort against their shared enemy of Iran is mutually beneficial, as well, and the deal paves the way for other countries in the region to enter into their own agreements with Israel.

A Secretive, But Productive Process Mediated by the U.S.

Initial private talks began in Warsaw in February of 2019 when Brian Hook with the U.S. State Department mediated talks between Netanyahu and several Arab leaders. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hook continued to sponsor conversations after the initial meeting. In June of 2019, Netanyahu’s ambassador to Washington published an op-ed championing Israeli sovereignty and its reach into the West Bank. Foregoing this effort in spite of campaign promises and administration statements was necessary to close the deal.

As it turns out, the two leaders have more common interests than conflicts with one another as indicated by leading think tanks on diplomatic research and foreign policy. Both share enmity with Iran and its proxies, and both favor investment and regional trade. For this reason, they struck a deal and the UAE ruler formally ended its boycott of Israel. Things are now moving quickly.

Ongoing Possibility of Peace and Stability

The official deal and repeal of the UAE’s boycott opens the door to banking, aviation, and other business ventures, which kicked off with an August 31st, 2020 flight from Israel to the UAE. The flight was historic in and of itself, but equally significant is the fact that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman opened Saudi air space to allow a direct path for the flight. Saudi King Salman thus signaled his support of the deal and its possibilities despite maintaining its Israel boycott in support of a Palestinian state. Now the question becomes which country joins the next peace deal.

Covid-19 Forsakes Syrian Refugees

Regardless of where you live on this pale blue dot, no one has escaped the coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization, United Nations, and even our own CDC here at home have told us the inevitable, that the most vulnerable populations among us will be hit the hardest. Truer words have never been spoken. Let’s take a look at a rapidly brewing humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.

 We all know that war-ravaged Syria has displaced millions of people. This crisis of despair is on-going. No sooner have things begun to stabilize, now we see the coronavirus is upon the very refugee camps created to protect those who lost loved ones, their homes, and nearly all their worldly possessions. Currently, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been working together to bring relief to these refugee camps. These NGOs have been working in concert with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Northeastern Syria (NES).

 The main NGOs leading the relief effort in the NES include; WHO, Kurdish Red Crescent, and the United Nations. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse due to the arrival of the coronavirus. These organizations were granted limited access to three checkpoints along the Syrian border, but that number was reduced from three to two, and now to one.

 It’s not difficult to understand why, but medical supplies must get through, as there are just not enough medical facilities, doctors, equipment, PPEs, medicines, or the required supply chain to deal with this pandemic in NES, not to mention the actual refugee camps. Testing is also at issue. Although there have been few coronavirus cases reported in Syria this is most likely because test kits simply have not been made available.

In the districts in the Northeastern Region of Syria medical facilities do not even meet the minimum standard of 18 hospital beds per 10,000 people. The international relief efforts now operate about 58 primary health facilities, 37 mobile clinics, and 13 hospitals – all of which rely on medical supplies, and PPE from across Syrian borders. NGOs have attempted to complain to the United Nations’ Security Council of Syria’s failure to allow shipments, but Russia vetoed the request to look into the issue at the last meeting. 

The Syrian Government claims it has facilitated shipments and processed all the paperwork required, but the NGOs say none have arrived. Have the Syrian refugee camps been forsaken amid the coronavirus? Test kits that moved through Damascus seemed to have pit stopped there, and never made it to their final destination. The total number of infected and the total number of deaths from Covid-19 are simply not known reports foreign policy think tanks tracking COVID-19, like the FDD.

As things get worse and stuck in the bureaucracy and/or in various UN committees people are dying. Although the fighting has stopped, the Syrian Government is not too keen on cross border deliveries to the region which could potentially include weapons, more fighters, or the means to pick up the conflict battle in the future. Turkey doesn’t want the Kurds moving through its border, and the Syrian government doesn’t want any more problems from the Kurdistan area of Iraq moving from one side of the border to the other.

Most Middle East countries do not want these refugees and with the price of oil down they can’t afford to take them even if they did want them. While the rest of the region deals with their own coronavirus problems and they have their hands full, many are on the verge of economic collapse.

Russia as an ally of Syria and involved in the war effort to protect Assad’s Syrian military is not interested in the humanitarian crisis, only protecting the borders during a non-fighting period. If supplies cannot come from Turkey or Iraq, then could they come from Jordan? Well, there seems to be a problem with that, as it would require the convoys to traverse too much of Syria and go through a region where they don’t belong according to a leading report on current events affecting Syria and the Middle East.

Normally, such a humanitarian crisis like this would get the full attention of the world, but right now there is simply too much coronavirus chaos, and nations’ leaders are preoccupied with their own challenges and medical supply needs. Remember everyone needs medical supplies now, so even if the deliveries could be made, they’d still fall short of need, at least this is what indications of how COVID-19 is affecting foreign policy in Syria show us, notes the FDD.

One could say that a big crisis just received the ultimate force-multiplier (the coronavirus pandemic) adding more variables, shortages, and time to any potentially viable solution to the Syrian refugee problem. If you will recall, the EU had already been told by many of its nation members that they were full-up with immigrant refugees even before the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian Government is even using this coronavirus crisis to plant malware and spyware onto the smartphones of those in Syria to find out what they are up to. They are offering an APP for Android Phones that claims to be a digital thermometer so users can track their temperature, it doesn’t work, as it merely shows the same temperature whenever used, but it allows access to the phone and gives geolocation data as well.

As major cities in Syria like Aleppo were bombed by the Russians and the Syrian army millions were displaced and many fled to neighboring countries. Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and other nations simply couldn’t take anymore. The refugee camps got bigger and bigger, barely manageable, and somewhat controlled chaos at first to an impossible humanitarian crisis not seen in nearly a decade. The data and science and technology information affecting COVID-19 and the Middle East suggests that the refugee camps could lose 100,000 people before all this is over.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Some blame Assad and his regime, some blame the United States, some blame ISIS, some blame Iran, some blame Russia, and foreign policy researchers on COVID-19’s effect say it’s not surprising.

It’s hard to say what will happen to all those refugees, or how many will survive the latest coronavirus crisis, especially considering the issues with hunger in the camps along with the ever-present problem of starvation and extreme weather events the region has experienced so far. Coronavirus and its effect on policy in Syria and the Middle East are not fully known yet, but those with a watchful eye on the issues tell us, this won’t end well.