Sanction Busters - Iran

Widespread unemployment has forced many Iranians to the black market. As mass smuggling from Oman and Iraq continues, vested interests on all sides puts the governments in a sensitive position.

"I came to earn 30,000 toman, you can't buy a chicken with it. If I wasn't desperate, would I come to carry all these goods?" asks one Iranian man at an Iraqi border. Like many other "backpackers", he carries goods out of Iraq on foot, which are then loaded onto trucks. The government controls and taxes the illegal trade with many waiting for up to 30 days for their turn to cross the border. Despite the dangers, smuggling remains the only source of income for many Iranians; but as one smuggler insists: "Being in danger is better than having no food to eat." While tonnes of goods are being shipped across the straits from Oman, tanker after tanker of oil heads from Kurdistan for Iran. The Kurdish government seem happy to sell their oil to Iran, but this is hotly contested in Baghdad, where the federal government says it belongs to all Iraqis. Meanwhile, Iranian refugees looking for work in Iraq anger the locals, themselves battling with unemployment. Commenting on the effect of international sanctions, Dr Khaled Hayder of Sulaymaniyah University in Iraq argues "the embargo impacts the Iranian people, not Iranian officials."

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