June 10, 2013, Washington, D.C. – Last month, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) sent a letter to President Barack Obama endorsing recommendations put forth in a report, Time to Move from Tactics to Strategy on Iran, issued on April 4th, 2013, by the Atlantic Council. In particular, PAAIA urged the president to implement recommendations to facilitate humanitarian trade and strengthen people-to-people ties.
While U.S. sanctions allow for exports of humanitarian goods (food, medicine, etc.) and for personal and family remittances, U.S. and international efforts, as well as Iranian mismanagement and alleged illicit activities, have caused some banks to shy away from making shipments of non-prohibited items to Iran.
The Atlantic Council report acknowledges the need to ensure the effectiveness of the sanctions against Iran while also minimizing, as far as is possible, their negative effects on the Iranian people. To help accomplish this, the report recommends that the Treasury Department designate a small number of U.S. and private Iranian financial institutions and/or third-country banks as channels for payment for humanitarian, educational, and public diplomacy-related transactions.
PAAIA believes that such a policy would be beneficial for Iranian Americans and for the United States as a whole. The report notes that a direct banking process, if implemented, could have far-reaching impact on U.S. attempts to reach out to ordinary Iranians. It would facilitate transactions, easing the flow of food and medicine to Iran. In addition, it would help facilitate family remittances in a manner that is more transparent and safe. Iranian students in America would be able to receive money from their parents more easily, and Iranian Americans would find it easier to help relatives back home or transfer personal assets or inheritance to the U.S.
PAAIA’s letter noted that direct banking links would not remove or loosen existing sanctions and would help stem the rise of illicit financial transfer methods, since the transactions would be licensed and subject to strict government oversight.
PAAIA, in conjunction with the Atlantic Council, has been working to educate policy makers about this issue. At the same time, it is essential that the Obama administration hears directly from the Iranian American community.
Make a Difference. Promote Humanitarian Trade and People-to People Ties with Iran.