Iran Meddling In Elections, So U.S. Blacklists Officials

( – Five officials from Iran have been blacklisted by the United States government. They’ve been accused of “preventing free and fair elections,” only one day before the parliament was going to hold a vote about how they handle political and economic crises.

The U.S. Treasury Department released a statement Thursday saying the sanctions were imposed on these officials, who are all members of Iran’s Guardian Council and Elections Supervision Committee. The Department imposed the sanctions because of the role the council played in the disqualification of several thousand candidates.

Among the five members who were targeted by the sanctions were Mohammad Yazdi — the former first judiciary chief of Iran — and Ahmad Jannati — the Guardian Council’s secretary.

The sanctions will freeze any assets these Iranian officials hold in the United States, and will also bar them from doing business with any Americans, and vice versa.

Campaigning for the parliamentary election in Iran came to an end Thursday, and while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said voting “is a religious duty,” there are many pro-reform politicians in the country and others around the world who have called for a voting boycott in the election.

This upcoming election in Iran will have voters choosing close to 300 lawmakers within the country. None of these positions will have any major influence or effect on Iran’s foreign affairs nor its nuclear policy. Those are each the role of Khamenei.

However, the fact that the Supreme Leader is trying to play a role in influencing voters and get his hardcore supporters next to him in parliament is what has drawn the ire of the United States government.

In the statement from the Treasury Department, Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said:

“The Trump Administration will not tolerate the manipulation of elections to favor the regime’s malign agenda, and this action exposes those senior regime officials responsible for preventing the Iranian people from freely choosing their leaders.”

This is just another incident in a long line of recent back-and-forth plodding and politicking from the Trump Administration in the U.S. and the Khamenei-backed government in Iran. These tensions began initially when, in 2018, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal that was struck by former President Barack Obama. Following that move, the U.S. began to re-impose sanctions on Iran that had been eased up under that deal with Iran.

Trump has said that he doesn’t intend to back off any of the sanctions, and has even threatened further sanctions if Iran doesn’t stay compliant with limits placed on uranium production, for example. That doesn’t seem likely, either, so it’s likely this back-and-forth will continue as tensions come to a head.