Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

There’s No Place Like CounterPunch

There's no place like CounterPunch, it's just that simple. And as the radical space within the "alternative media"(whatever that means) landscape continues to shrink, sanctuaries such as CounterPunch become all the more crucial for our political, intellectual, and moral survival. Add to that the fact that CounterPunch won't inundate you with ads and corporate propaganda. So it should be clear why CounterPunch needs your support: so it can keep doing what it's been doing for nearly 25 years. As CP Editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, succinctly explained, "We lure you in, and then punch you in the kidneys." Pleasant and true though that may be, the hard-working CP staff is more than just a few grunts greasing the gears of the status quo.

So come on, be a pal, make a tax deductible donation to CounterPunch today to support our annual fund drive, if you have already donated we thank you! If you haven't, do it because you want to. Do it because you know what CounterPunch is worth. Do it because CounterPunch needs you. Every dollar is tax-deductible. (PayPal accepted)

Thank you,
Eric Draitser

President Assad and Ayatollah Khamenei are Keeping Their Word


Latakia, Syria

Recent reports from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the accuracy of which have been conceded by the White House, but denied in Tel Aviv, have it that slightly less than half of Syria’s chemical weapons have already left the country and 100% of the country’s stockpiles are believed to have been neutralized. Well along the path to meet the June 30 agreed discard date. Both Iran and Russia have been credited with helping persuade the Syrian government that it is very much in the interest of Syria as well as the global community to discard its chemical weapons stockpiles which date back to the 1970s. A total of 11 consignments have been recently shipped out of Syria for decontamination and disposal, the latest from Latakia. Included is all of Syria’s sulphur mustard gas, a blister agent that was first widely used in WWI.

Captain Clyde Chester Lamb, the father of this observer, was a one of hundreds of victims of the deadly gas while fighting the Germans in front-line trenches in eastern France. Capt. Lamb survived, but never fully recovered, and when he did later speak about his experiences in the war, which was not often, he once told his horrified children at story time that he and his comrades had no gas masks so they used to improvise by urinating on scraps of uniforms which he would distribute to his men with instructions to hold it tightly over their nose and mouth. Somehow their pee seemed to reduce the effects of the poisonous gas.

Despite some delays due to security and logistical issues, few besides the Zionist lobby in the US Congress doubt that Syria’s work will be completed. Across Syria, according to information made available to this observer, specialists have speeded up the packing and transporting of the chemical weapons, sometimes even moving them through rebel territory to the Mediterranean port of Latakia.

In cooperation with Iran, Russia has supplied large-capacity containers and armored vehicles for the Latakia loading operation while China has sent 10 ambulances and surveillance cameras and Finland dispatched an emergency response team in case of accidents. Denmark and Norway are providing cargo ships and military escorts to take the chemicals to the container port of Gioia Tauro in Italy and the American government, among others, is also helping.

Despite Iranian cooperation with this major humanitarian project and, according to IAEA spokesmen, “solid progress has been made with the Iranian nuclear file”, the White House to date is still waffling on its pledged meager lifting of sanctions which continue to target the people of Iran. US sanctions also continue to compound and increase the nearly unfathomable suffering of the Syrian people all of whom have been targeted by Barack Obama

Executive Orders ever tightening their noose of economic sanctions.

The White House has yet to explain its delay, but Congressional sources report that President Obama is still being targeted by Israel and its Congressional agents and that Obama does not yet want to lift sanctions “for now”, more than cosmetically. This applies to medicine and medical equipment.

The same source claims that the White House is also signaling Tehran that it should continue to be patient while a sanctions review is getting started in Washington. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Kerry has just assured Iran’s leadership that the White House appreciates the fatwa (religious decree) issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month forbidding the production and use of nuclear weapons. Kerry agreed that Iran is entitled to a peaceful nuclear program and he also credited the earlier statement by Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokes Ramin Mehman-Parast that Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa is binding for Iran, and that “There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader’s fatwa.”

A recent Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) prosecution of an American citizen seeking to ship potentially life-saving MRI medical equipment to Iran illustrates the weak knees of the Obama White House by allowing that Zionist dominated Federal agency to ramp up its targeting of the people of Iran. There are dozens of cases like the one noted below and President Obama is presumably aware of them. The shameful case under review involves a University Medical Researcher who is being targeting with jail time for sending a medical device to Iran which his lawyers argued was completely innocent and clearly legal because medical equipment such as MRI’s are exempted by the ‘ humanitarian exceptions’ stated in Obama’s relevant Executive Orders imposing US sanctions against Iran.

Mr. Cliff Burns, a lawyer and law professor in Washington DC explained the case of Mr.Mohamad Nazemzadeh, who was a Research Fellow in the Neurology Department of the University of Michigan at the time of his arrest, and who is being federally prosecuted for sending a medical device to the Netherlands.

At issue is a coil for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The coil is the assembly of wires that generates the necessary radio signals when electricity flows through them to permit imaging the part of the body within the coil. Mr. Nazemzadeh is currently doing research at the Henry Ford hospital in Detroit and his area of specialty is, not surprisingly, magnetic resonance imaging.

As explained by Mr. Burns, “A part for an MRI machine would, under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, be eligible for an export license notwithstanding the embargo on Iran. Nazemzadeh’s failure to obtain a license would, of course, be a violation of the embargo.” Even assuming that it was a technical criminal violation in his case, one has to wonder why, as Burns does, Obama Administration prosecutorial resources are being consumed to prosecute a researcher for trying to send life-saving medical equipment to Iran.

As one of the researchers lawyers noted: “Aren’t there dangerous people out there with guns and bombs who might warrant the attention instead?” An affidavit in support of a search warrant for Nazemzadeh’s mobile phone casts doubt on whether Nazemzadeh actually had the criminal intent necessary to support an OFAC pushed criminal prosecution in the first place for the attempted export of the MRI part.

According to the affidavit, Nazemzadeh was negotiating with the undercover federal agent sent in by OFAC to ship the MRI coil to Iran through a company in the Netherlands. It is not uncommon for people to believe, even if they study the vague wording of the Iranian sanction minutia, that if it is legal to ship an item to a particular country, no laws are broken if the item is then re-exported, without any involvement on their part, to a prohibited destination. Here, according to the affidavit, Mr. Nazemzadeh continued to say to the undercover agent that he believed the transaction was legal and says this is true because the export from the United States is to the Netherlands, not Iran. Mr. Nazemzadeh’s good faith legal mistake is not a criminal act.

Instead, this is precisely the sort of case that ought to be evaluated, if at all, as an administrative matter by OFAC, were that Muslim targeting agency anywhere near fair-minded and objective. OFAC should have at the maximum issued a fine in this case notwithstanding Mr. Nazemzadeh’s mistaken belief that the transaction did not violate U.S. law.

If the White House truly wants to normalize relations with Iran and with Syria as it claims, it needs to do a lot better. A good start would be by calling off OFACs attack dogs who service other than the American people. Also it should honor its oft touted “Humanitarian sanctions against Iran and Syria that exempts medicines and medical equipment”.

This language has not been implemented and it misleads the global community about the brutal and illegal nature of the White House promulgated civilian targeting, for political purposes, sanctions.

This weekend’s White House greetings to the people of the Islamic Republic for Nowruz the Iranian New Year in the Solar Hijri calendar are no doubt sincere and appreciated.

But now it’s time to give substance to America’s New Year’s greetings that her citizens can be proud of and, that are accordant and consistent with their values.

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. He is reachable c/o

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians