Unintended Consequences of Sanctions for Iranian Students
The recent US sanctions on Iran may be causing problems for Iranian students. Last week, the new, tougher sanctions the US imposed on Iran forced the Educational Testing Service to suspend providing necessary standardized tests such as the GRE and the TOEFL, to prospective Iranian students wanting to attend college abroad in America and Europe.
Fortunately, there is a loophole. This morning the Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced that it would resume registration for Iranian students wanting to take iTOEFL and GRE tests — as long as they have a credit or debit card that is issued from a bank permitted under the U.N. or U.S. sanctions. It’s unclear how many students won’t be able to clear that extra hurdle for taking the tests.
Jamal Abdi, the Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) points out an important point: President Obama has failed to live up to his commitment he made only four months ago, when he declared to,
“sustain our commitment to a more hopeful future for the Iranian people,” which he said would include “increasing opportunities for educational exchanges so that Iranian students can come to our college and universities…” Watch what he said here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/03/19/president-obamas-nowruz-message”
This is a major example of hurting those we want to help. One, Iranian students are the force behind the movement to reform and moderate Iran’s government, and so cutting off a key source for educational opportunity does not serve their interests, nor the US’s. Two, the cultural exchange that takes place when Iranian students go to Europe or the US to learn promotes peace and understanding in powerful ways.
The Obama administration has often repeated its wish to protect the Iranian people while only punishing those in power. There policies are so far falling far short of that mark, and by doing so we only punish the wrong people, and strengthening the anti-American regime’s political standing in Iran in the process.