Iranian expansionism likely to be first victim of U.S. sanctions

The new sanctions against Iran are technically imposed by only one country: The US. However, because Washington has threatened to impose secondary sanctions on countries that do not abide by them, most other countries will likely comply. As a result, the effect of the sanctions is a global denial of economic activity with Iran. Nevertheless, it is vital to understand that these sanctions are actually the work of just one country and as such are intended to pursue the interests of that country.
The primary interest of the US vis-a-vis Iran is to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power. It is now abundantly clear that Iran has desired nuclear weapons technology for some time. The US considers this possibility to be a direct threat to the safety of the country and its people, as well as a threat to America’s Middle East allies. There is the fear that this technology, in the hands of a revolutionary Iranian regime, would be used to further destabilize the region, impose Iran’s will, and possibly empower terrorist organizations. However, Iran has proven committed to its nuclear ambitions and it may take a while for the new sanctions to work in this regard.
Another important goal of the US sanctions is to compel Iran to return American citizens who are being held hostage by the regime in Evin Prison on bogus charges. Unlike the previous American administration, the Trump White House has made it clear that it considers the return of American hostages vital. Also, in a shift from its predecessor, the Trump administration seems unwilling to pay ransoms for the hostages currently held by Iran. Rather, the US is using pressure and threats against Iran in the hope of securing the release of Americans. It is a tactic that the US recently used successfully to free three Americans from North Korea and is currently using to try to free an American pastor being held in Turkey. However, Iran has recently used its hostages as bargaining chips so it may not free Americans until it is absolutely forced to or is given something substantial in return.

The poor state of Iran’s economy means the regime’s terrorism and paramilitary support just might be its first rogue policy to be hit by the strength of US sanctions. – Ellen R. Wald

On the other hand, the sanctions may ultimately prove most successful in the short term at effectuating a third goal, even more than they may be effective in preventing nuclear proliferation and securing the freedom of captive Americans. That is, the sanctions may be most successful at reducing Iran’s deleterious interference in other countries regionally and even beyond. Iranian support of terrorist groups, as well as direct influence by its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threatens regional and international stability. Iran supports terrorist or paramilitary groups in Gaza, Yemen and Lebanon. It sends its own forces into Syria and Iraq. From an American perspective, recent revelations that Iran assisted Al-Qaeda, allegedly planned a bomb attack in Paris and has sent agents to scope out buildings in the US brought home the need to restrict its militant activities on the international scene.
It seems possible that the US sanctions could actually have the greatest and most immediate impact on Iran’s international expansionist actions. Over the past year, even before the new US sanctions were announced, Iran has been experiencing widespread economic protests, strikes and demonstrations. A major theme coming out of many of these protests is anger over the amount of money and effort the regime spends abroad, while the Iranian economy struggles. These protests have blamed the Iranian government for failing to provide clean water and for the massive currency devaluations that are harming Iranian businesses and sapping the savings and purchasing power of Iranian citizens. Protesters have called out the Iranian regime for focusing on activities in Syria and Gaza while ignoring the plight of its people at home.
If the protests in Iran are any indication, the regime may be forced to cut back or perhaps halt its international expansionist activities as a result of pressure from its people, who are struggling under an already poor economy. Iran might no longer be able to afford its support of terrorism and military expansionism while its people suffer. Now, the US-imposed economic sanctions will only exacerbate the economic problems, and it is clear that at least a segment of Iranian society sees those economic problems in comparison to the fortunes being spent to destabilize the region and the world.
When Washington announced it would be reinstating sanctions unilaterally in May, much of the global debate was whether the sanctions could be effective if led by only one country. Now that so many countries and businesses have already halted or begun winding down business with Iran, it appears clear that the sanctions will, in fact, be felt by the Iranian regime. Today, the debate is what change to look for from Iran as a result. Because Iranian citizens have already connected a bad economy with their government’s international expansionism, Iran’s terrorism and paramilitary support just might be its first rogue policy to be hit by the strength of these sanctions.

Source » arabnews

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