Iran Offers Aid After Hurricane Sandy

Iranian authorities have offered to send emergency aid to the United States in the wake of Hurricane Sandy which ravaged New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and other parts of the east coast this past week.

“We are ready to help the flood-stricken people of America,” Mahmud Mozaffar, who leads Iran’s Red Crescent Organization, told the semiofficial Fars News Agency.  “If American authorities agree, we can send our rescuers with equipment and tools to American cities in the shortest period of time.”

While the Red Crescent Organization is experienced in providing immediate assistance following disasters, acting as the Iranian version of the Red Cross, it has close ties to the Iranian government.  According to documents released by WikiLeaks, U.S. officials believe that some Red Crescent employees act as spies while in foreign countries.

While it may be surprising for some that Iran would make such a gesture, it is not unheard of for the United States and Iran to cooperate in situations where natural disasters have befallen their countries.  In 2003, the United States sent a C-130 military transport plane, rescue team, and an ambulance to the southeast city of Bam where 25,000 people died after a devastating earthquake.  In August of this past year, the United States again offered humanitarian services when more than 300 people were killed in earthquakes in the northwestern part of the country (this offer was denied by Iranian authorities).

The United States and Iran have cut off their diplomatic relations since 1979 when Iranian revolutionaries raided the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.  However, as noted above, natural disasters have sometimes been an opportunity for the two countries to open the lines of communication.  Do you think that U.S. authorities should acknowledge the offer from Iran?  Flatly reject it?  Is this an opportunity to improve diplomatic relations between the two nations?

 

4 comments

  1. I think we should take the supplies and have our own people distribute them. If the U.S. thinks some of the people Iran will send over are spies the government should not give them the opportunity to obtain any information that could be used against us. But, by taking the food, clothes, etc. that Iran may offer we can still show our willingness to work with their government and possibly reestablish diplomatic relations. Completely rejecting the “equipment and tools” Iran is offering does not make sense to me. It is an opportunity to help people who desperately need it; to me, a flat rejection of all aid is unfair to those most effected by Hurricane Sandy.

  2. I want to believe that this is an act of goodwill on Iran’s behalf. If it is, the US should absolutely accept the aid because the affected areas need all the help they can get. On the other hand, I do understand any feelings of caution. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about Russia cutting off benefit programs funded by the United States. One of their reasons for doing so was that the United States was using those programs to be able to spy on parts of Russia that they previously did not have access to. Obviously, Iran will not be given the same clearance that the United States was given in that situation, but limiting Iran’s contact with the United States does make sense.
    I am incredibly cynical when discussing politics, especially world politics, but an offer to send rescue equipment to people that desperately need it would be hard to turn down. If Iran can help these people, we should let them.

  3. I believe that the U.S. authorities should absolutely acknowledge the offer from Iran. While they may not accept it, it is important to show the world that Iran is clearly not all bad, and that perhaps while there are clearly differences between Iran and many western powers, we are all human, and nobody is immune from natural disaster. When a country reaches out to help another, it should always be acknowledged. Even during the first World War, enemies ceased fighting to celebrate the holidays together. At the end of the day, we are all humans. We experience joys as well as sorrows. The more we acknowledge each other, and the more we humanize each other, the closer we can come to mutual understanding, and hopefully lasting peace.

  4. I agree with Zach that the U.S. should accept the supplies and have our own volunteers distribute them. The U.S. have countless volunteers in our own country that we do not need to ask other countries to send help, however, supplies are always welcome. Disasters frequently bring out the best in humanity, with rivals and enemies putting aside their differences, albeit temporarily, to lend a helping hand. However, there is still skepticism against Iran and for that reason acknowledging and respectfully declining the rescuers is the best course of action.

    It is important to try and quell the hostilities with Iran, however there should still remain a safe distance between the two countries until peaceful diplomatic progress is made. Accepting and publicly thanking Iran for their generosity will go a long way in beginning the healing process and attempting to put aside differences. After Hurricane Sandy, many U.S. citizens are in desperate need of supplies and it would not look good for the U.S. government to refuse these supplies because they came from Iran. Many of the people suffering along the east coast could not care where the supplies come from as long as they are available to them.

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