Do sanctions on Iran work? Survival in modern world




Due to the new layer of sanctions on Iran what is called “maximum pressure”, Iranian currency is increasingly becoming worthless. Trump administration this week announced the hardest sanctions which will put pressure on Iran’s internal policies.

Sanctions on Iran are not new, they were imposed 40 years back when US supported monarch Shah Raza Pahlavi was overthrown by the revolutionist Shia regime, and when these revolutionists attacked the US embassy and took hostages of US staff. In response to this the US halted billion of assets and declared Iran as a terrorist state. The Bush administration called the Iran as “axis of the evil”. Following this more sanctions were imposed on Iran due to the increased human rights abuses and sending billion dollars to the armed groups in the middle east like to Hammas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Libya. Moreover, Iran’s nuclear power development and advancement set an alarming situation for the US and Israel. In 2003 CIA reported and indicated the structures that there are some facilities for the nuclear bombs development that are not shown to the IAEA.

In 2011 the US along with UN issued massive economic sanctions on Iran. First, to contain money which is directly flowing towards nuclear facilities and secondly, to pressurize Iran for the diplomatic deal, which had successfully worked as Iran signed the nuclear deal. Irani Foreign Minister Javad Zareef successfully adopted a deal with the P5+1 after a long and tough negotiations in 2015 which is called as “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.” Due to this step by Iran, the international sanctions on Iran lifted, but there was a lack of trust created by the Israeli Prime Minister Natan-Yahu in his speech in the UN General assembly, “Iran’s rulers promised to destroy my country, murder my people……” Soon Donald Trump took a step back by withdrawing from the Iran’s nuclear deal. All the old sanctions were re-adopted, and more than 700 new sanctions were issued on Iranian individuals and companies.

Absolutely, the foreign supporting of the armed groups increased like in Yemen, Syria, Iran and Lebanon. Here the question arises: are these sanctions against Iran working? The true picture is that they don’t fight face to face, but they antagonize each other on the soil of Iraq and Levant (land of actual Syria or Shaam). How Iran is surviving in a situation where there is no International travel, no foreign transactions, no international trade and so on… as Iran is backing the armed terror groups by joining US rival Russia and think that Russia will support her in these state of affairs, but this idea is somehow wrongbecause Russia may only support any country in the arena of strategic deals and provide military assistance but cannot do the same in other aspects of daily life. On the other hand, the US has the main weapon of sanctions; an official order to take action against the country in order to make it obey international laws, the weapon includes sanctions on traveling, transactions, trade etc. These sanctions made by US has affected Iran’s oil and steel industry, mining and coal sector, dozens of banks, insurance and constructions companies, weakened the economy of the state.

On 11 January on live television, Pompeo and Mnuchin announced the new sanctions speech on Iran’s steel industry following the statement, “17 specific sanctions against Iran largest steel and iron manufactures also the sea vessels who are involved in transferring these products. At the result of these actions we will cut off billions of dollars and will be continued till further order.” Another shocking ban was imposed on Iran’s carpets, which is its biggest exporting good and on its dry fruits industry. Iran could not use the dollar currency which is the most valuable currency as all the international transactions are made in US dollars. Due to these banns on exports and restricted trade deals, Iran’s economy has become the most isolated economies in the world. The US stance is clear regarding the Iran’s behavior, it wants to stop Iranian regime’s expansion, terrorists’ activities in the middle east and stop nuclear weapon production. The basic US motive is non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by Iran because if Iran continues the proliferation of nuclear weapons it will not cause instability in the region but also pose certain threats to US and Israel. Furthermore, the Saudi monarch also have security concerns in this regard. Saudi Arab has put the Palestine issue at side and signed secret agreements with Israel to get nuclear weapons to counter threats imposed by Iran, which is its real rival.

Moreover, the new layers of sanctions by the Trump administration were imposed in response to the attacks on the US military bases in Iraq by Iran. This retaliation by US will not only put pressure on the government directly but also on its people indirectly. Iran has been facing these sanctions for 40 years, but new restrictions will be hard than previous days that had the potential to compel Iran to come towards the line of diplomatic agreements with the Trump administration. Because this time Iran don’t have any other option, because if it further increases the prices of the products to stabilize its economy, the people who are already fed up of these high prices will respond by a revolt against its government.

Some experts express that Iran is a close ally of the US traditional rival Russia and is doing trade with Russia in various fields. Iran imports aircraft engines from Russia whereas it exports steel and iron to Russia. Despite these relationship Russia has never overtly supported Iran but only provided military assistance to it similar to what it has been doing in Syria and Yemen. Russia always pursue the policy of providing hidden military aids to the interested countries but not openly supported any of them. Following its policies, it also has not openly criticized the assassination of General Soleimani.

Iran has been focusing on the proliferation of nuclear weapon and seems least concerned about its economy. It needs to realize that in the war of survival no one needs hypersonic missiles but the food and security, security in terms of health and education. Because when a country has no foreign transactions, no import export, lack of advance technology and internet facilities, it will not be able to survive in the modern world where everyone else enjoy these facilities, such conditions provoke the people of the state to revolt against their leaders.

Iran has been motivating its people by using religion and idea of nationalism as a charismatic propaganda tool, but this strategy is not effective rather it has made the state more vulnerable. It is the time for Iran to act rationally like before the Khamnayee revolution, and preserve its culture, language and education which has been known throughout the world. They can use their poetry, culture, natural resources, agriculture products to strengthen its relations with other states. The Irani political leaders must show good diplomatic attitude towards foreign issues as they did in JCPOA nuclear deal.

Iran also needs to work on its government sector and ensure involvement of their “Islamic Consultative Assembly” in various issues of the country, because the selected members of the assembly are only focused on resolving such issues effectively for the sake of their citizens, not for their self-interest.

The writer is the student of MPhil (Strategic Studies) research in Abdul Wali-Khan University Mardan and a security analyst. He can be approached on