Some people jump to say that sanctions in Iraq were of no use and Saddam stayed in power and people suffered.  Actually one can say the same thing about Iran's defense against Iraq, or US Gulf War against Iraq.  That the end result has been that Saddam is still in power and only Iraqi people suffered.  But I think if there were no sanctions, Saddam would have been a worse bully.  Nonetheless I agree that the result of sanctions in Iraq's case was very little.


The truth is that sanctions by themselves cannot create a democratic opposition in any country when such opposition does not exist.  But if there is such an opposition, whether inside the government or outside, then “reformists” can use sanctions to their advantage and win over their opponents as them being at the helm will not only mean human rights but will also mean economic value as this will remove sanctions.  Let me explain.


Let's look at Soviet Union and East European countries.  In all of them, the democratic forces told the people that if they come to power, they are able to get the West to cooperate with their respective countries, i.e. with Czech, Poland, Russia, etc.  So sanctions was something that helped the democratic forces to come to power, as everyone could see that this is the only way to get the Western sanctions lifted, by having the democratic and reformist forces at the helm.


The same was the case in South Africa, where even Mandela himself asked the West not to lift the sanctions until the Apartheid system was removed.  In case of Russia, reformists would *not* openly go and say something like this, but they knew that *unconditional* removal of sanctions was not to their advantage, and the connecting of sanctions with human rights in the West was, what they liked, although did not say anything, and just tried to be the champions of human rights and removal of sanctions that had become synonymous.


The case of Iran is also very similar to the Soviet Union and South Africa, because the democratic and reformist forces, both outside and inside the government are strong (contrary to Iraq).


Yes, the most extreme right wing hezbollAhis are the only ones who want*unconditional* removal of sanctions, to make sure the reformists have one less thing to offer people with their human rights agenda.  Connecting the human rights and sanctions gives economic value to the human rights agenda of democratic and reformist forces in Iran.  Thus this position does  not even helping the Sixth IRI Majles Parliament and Khatami, and is only helping the extreme right factions of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Sam Ghandchi, Publisher



July 25, 2000


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* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on July 25, 2000



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