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Iran
Photo by The White House

Reprinted with permission from Tom Dispatch

Was Donald Trump's Jan. 3 drone assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani the first step in turning the cold war between the United States and Iran into a hot war in the weeks before an American presidential election? Of course, there's no way to know yet, but behind by double digits in most national polls and flanked by ultra-hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump is a notoriously impetuous and erratic figure. In recent weeks, for instance, he didn't hesitate to dispatch federal paramilitary forces to American cities run by Democratic mayors and his administration also seems to have launched a series of covert actions against Tehran that look increasingly overt and have Iran watchers concerned about whether an October surprise could be in the cards.

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Norman Roule, a senior adviser to the anti-Iran group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which led a multi-year effort pressuring pharmaceutical and medical supply companies to cease legal trade with Iran even during the COVID-19 pandemic, appears to be distancing himself from UANI's work, effectively whitewashing his own role at the organization. "The international community should do everything it can to enable the Iranian people to obtain access to medical supplies and equipment," said Roule in a recent article in the Nation.

While hawks in Washington are calling for more sanctions on Iran amid the COVID-19 crisis, the Nation published a fascinating scoop last week showing that U.S. military intelligence is deeply concerned about the public health implications of U.S. sanctions on Iran's ability to combat COVID-19. A leaked intelligence brief specifically cited the risk of COVID-19 infections, originating in Iran, to U.S. troops based in Qatar.

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