Anyone who has ever felt the fear of flying needs to imagine what it must have been like to be in this Iran Air B727 when it landed without its two front tires! As someone who has been forced to travel in Iranian airplanes, I can tell you that this clip made my stomach turn much more than it does when I fly in them.
Due to the pilot’s incredible skills, these passengers were relatively lucky, unlike the many Iranians that been killed in a series of frequent crashes that have occurred over the years, the last one taking the lives of 77 people earlier in January.
Iranian planes are very old and lack new parts for repairs and replacements due to sanctions which prevent the government and private Iranian companies from purchasing what’s needed to keep them safe and up to date. It’s too early to say exactly what forced the plane to land without its nose gear, but is this a likely scenario in countries that are allowed to properly tend to their passenger aircraft? Why don’t planes crash as often as they do in Iran in other oil rich countries such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt?
Whatever the reasons for this particular event, it once again raises the question of how sanctions against Iran are impacting ordinary Iranians. Last year Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained that the U.S.’s “goal” was to “pressure the Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guard elements, without contributing to the suffering of the ordinary [Iranians]” who she says “deserve better than what they currently are receiving.”
She reiterated this sentiment in a recent interview with BBC Persian about the U.S.’s new “virtual embassy in Tehran“, arguing that sanctions are intended to convince the Iranian regime to change its behavior. But that’s not what’s happening. Economic sanctions are not only preventing Iran from updating its aircraft, they’re also negatively affecting ordinary Iranians regardless of what the stated goals are. The U.S. says it has placed economic sanctions against Iran’s main airlines, Iran Air and Mahan Air because they have allegedly supported Iran’s military, but doesn’t that amount to collective punishment when the great majority of those affected are the average people who are forced to travel on them?
Everyday life in Iran can be suffocating for a variety of reasons and one of the few escapes people have is from traveling around the country for leisure, especially since many Iranians are denied travel visas from other countries that they want to visit.
Paul Pillar and other level-headed analysts have questioned the real aim and results of sanctions on Iran, and even Iranian dissidents have criticized them, especially the kind that affect average Iranians. Pillar argues that one of the reasons why sanctions aren’t working is because the strategy and end goal behind them is unclear.
So where is the U.S. going with its sanctions, especially with the broad ranging kind such as those which would target Iran’s central bank, a move which is currently being debated in the U.S. government? Will the Iranian government start submitting to Western demands and will ordinary Iranians rise up and bring down their government because much of the world is trying to crush it, or will they simply continue to suffer, as the U.S. grows more impatient and the measures taken against Iran become more militant?