Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo explained the new measure, saying that the US deploying Elon Musk’s Starlink is to spark Iran’s anti-regime revolution and counter the government’s efforts to surveil and censor them.
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Nowadays, it is unusual for the US government to declare that Iran sanctions would be loosened, but that is exactly what the US Treasury Department did on Friday.
It looks to be a plan to promote protests by opening up social media and communication channels. “The Treasury Department announced exceptions to Iranian sanctions Friday to allow companies to provide more online services in the country after Iran’s government cut internet access for most of the country amid protests,” The Hill reports.
“With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people be better equipped to counter the government’s efforts to surveil and censor them,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo explained of the new measure.
The partial sanctions rollback specifically affects US and international tech companies that can assist the Iranian population in accessing secure outside platforms and services in the goal of promoting more open information flows, particularly on social media platforms. The new US Treasury text reads as follows:
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“As courageous Iranians take to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “
“Today, Treasury is announcing the expansion of Iran General License D-2, which will expand the range of internet services available to Iranians. With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people be better equipped to counter the government’s efforts to surveil and censor them. In the coming weeks, OFAC will continue issuing guidance to support the Administration’s commitment to promoting the free flow of information, which the Iranian regime has consistently denied to its people.”
Following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the Islamic Republic reportedly blocked Instagram and other well-known websites this week as part of the expansion of its anti-hijab protest crackdown.
The young woman from Iranian Kurdistan apparently died as a result of police beatings for “unsuitable attire,” or failing to wear a headscarf according to Islamic Republic norms. After being severely beaten while in custody by the police, she allegedly fell into a coma. Videos posted to social media show demonstrations in numerous towns turning violent, with Western pundits praising this as a full-fledged anti-regime “revolution.”
After Elon Musk advocated a relaxation of anti-Iran tech sanctions, notably for Starlink, soon after the protests started, the US Treasury’s response appears to have been accelerated. Days earlier, Musk declared that he will work to have Iran exempted from US sanctions in order to provide Starlink internet service to the severely sanctioned Middle Eastern nation:
“Internet access is an important tool for protesters and activists in Iran, which blocks many services like YouTube and many foreign media outlets in an effort to impose what the country describes as a halal internet, or one that conforms to its interpretation of Islamic law,” wrote WSJ.
The billionaire businessman claimed he was attempting to deliver Starlink satellite internet service to Iran at a time when most of the country’s internet speeds were being restricted by Iranian authorities in an effort to put an end to protests:
Earlier this week, Musk announced on the social media service: “Starlink is now active on all continents, including Antarctica.” After reading Musk’s tweet, Iranian-born science reporter Erfan Kasraie then posted his own message to the SpaceX chief.
“I’m sure you won’t answer it Mr Musk, but is it technically possible to provide Starlink to Iranian people?” Kasraie asked. “It could be a game changer for the future.”
Musk did answer Kasraie. He wrote, “Starlink will ask for an exemption to Iranian sanctions in this regard.” The sanctions he commented about are linked to Iran’s nuclear activities. The restrictions bar a wide range of U.S. companies from doing business with Iran.
Following Musk’s remarks, both political and nonpartisan senators are allegedly putting pressure on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to take action.
Tehran has refuted the opposition’s account of how Amini died, saying instead that she suffered a heart attack before falling and hitting her skull. The US Treasury imposed sanctions on Iran’s strict moral police on Thursday as more and more women remove their headscarves in public acts of rebellion.
After a week of clashes with the police, Iranian state TV acknowledged that at least 26 people had died, although some outside rights observers claim there are actually more. Videos that have just surfaced and are currently going viral make it abundantly clear that the demonstrations are becoming more violent and that this has led to a harsher police and security response. According to the Iranian authorities, some of the casualties came from the security services.