COVID-19 pandemic in Iran was part of the world pandemic corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Iran officially announced the first confirmed case on 19 February 2020 and the country is fighting the virus tooth and nail, amidst US sanctions on the country.
In the US, first confirmed case was in January 2020, first known death in February 2020 and it spread to all 50 states by end of March 2020. Since then both countries are fighting the virus respectively and rated as among the worst-hit by the virus. This brief account will try to look at how the issue is seen preferredly in the context of ‘political conflict’ between the two countries.
Three keywords (Iran, the US and Covid-19) will be briefly explained through cases of sanctions, prisoner swap, upcoming US presidential election, and offer for dialog by the US Trump thus Iran response to it. Lastly, what hope or expectation can come out of it.
COVID-19 is worsening the situation in Iran already hard hit by US sanctions. Even worse, US has the highest confirmed case and death in the world caused by the virus. Since the beginning of the outbreak, Iran had accused US and allies as part of conspiracy against Iran and had suggested COVID-19 as ‘American Biological Invasion’. It is also to prove that US is always causing harm and damage against the country’s basic ideological line.
The US, among others through some media, had also accused Iranian government of covering up the deadly virus spread in Iran even in early February 2020.
Currently Iran and US in early June 2020 had conducted prisoner swap between Iranian anthropologist Dr. Sirous Asgari and a US Navy veteran Michael White, both reportedly tested positive of COVID-19. Thus the prisoner swap is almost certainly related to COVID-19 spread in both countries. Both had politically responded to the issue. Upon the release of Dr. Sirous Asgari from US prison, Iranian authority stated that the release was due to the inhumane condition at the US detain facility and the worsened health condition of the Iranian detainee caused by COVID-19, and then was regarded as violation of basic human rights by the US.
On the other side, President Trump in a remarkably rare move, thanked Iran and stressed that the release of the US detainee from Iranian detain center as an opening for a possible dialogue with Iran. President Trump also related Michael White’s release to the upcoming US Presidential election in November 2020, in that the release was already done without waiting for that election of which he is sure to win. Iran, responding to US President’ dialog offer, stated that US should first lift the sanctions on Iran, to begin with.
Iran and US are still ‘interacting’ and ’communicating’ to each other in any way and almost in any given situation or issue, COVID-19 issue in particular. And both countries ‘interaction’ is still seen by most as ‘blame game’.
COVID-19 pandemic seems to be long and far in sight to be over, if not worsening anywhere including in Iran and the US. How political it might appear, Iran with its strong response and the US’ Trump with its rare dialog offer, it is not exaggerated to expect both countries to come to terms out of humanitarian approaches as part of global/collective fight against the pandemic. Anyway, it is always good to have positive attitude and optimism.
The above writing is of personal views.