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For decades, Iran has been a subject of multilateral international sanctions which have failed to produce cumulative effects on influencing Iran’s policy on its nuclear program. The “toughest sanctions to date,” as quoted by President Obama, will come into full effect on 28th June 2012. Once again, sanctions fall under the umbrella of attempting to prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear proliferation program.
According to an International Atomic Agency Report 2011, Iran is aiming towards obtaining nuclear weapons and the punitive methods used by the U.S. government will not just subvert the central bank of Iran but will also have an effect on its energy and transport sector. Pressure has also been exerted on other governments to join in with the implementation of a fourth round of UN sanctions on Iran.
Ranking fifth in the world in its oil reserves and second in gas reserves, Iran is clearly an important energy resource base and a major supplier of oil and natural gas to countries like India, China and Japan. In January 2012, the European Union froze assets of Iran’s central bank within its zone and will be extending oil shipment ban later in July. The severity of these sanctions has made it impossible for companies, banks and governments to do any business dealings with Iran.
The debate about whether or not Iran has a right to nuclear energy is as old as Queen Elizabeth’s ascent to the throne. For Iran, acquisition of nuclear energy has become a matter of national pride and in response to this fourth round of multilateral sanctions taken by the UN in 2010, Iran has responded by stating its right to peaceful nuclear energy.
Iran is a study of complexity and intrigue. It is difficult to understand a society that tethers between the modernism of Shah’s time and adherence to the early years of Islam. Iran’s image in the global world is tarnished, and according to a BBC poll in 2012, Iran tops their list as the country that offers “the most negative influence in the world.”
With the collapse of Saddam’s Baathist regime and the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, an altered and delicate balance of power exists in Southwest Asia. Iran’s strategic importance has made itself a point of convergence of the interests of major players, particularly the US. One only needs to look at the map of the Middle East to know the strategic importance of Iran to the US.
In last 10 years, the strong and divisive fissure in U.S. foreign policy to coerce Tehran into adapting a new stance on the war on terrorism has also failed. Sanctions imposed by the Bush administration in 2006 barred Iran from dealing with US financial institutions, even indirectly. As a result, continuous rounds of sanctions have severed diplomatic ties between the two countries. The restart of the Iranian nuclear program and the US retaliation in terms of sanctions, further induces strong images of adversaries that are monolithically aggressive, diabolical, and untrustworthy. For adversaries who hold equally negative images of the other, the ability for each side to misperceive the enemy’s intent has become more pervasive. This means that it is highly possible that the mutual fear between the US and Iran may result in war.
In the present, the impending talks of attacks on Iran are chiefly driven by concern over the safety of US energy supplies, which is similar to the 2003 Iraq war. However, it is certain that the US will never mention oil as a reason for attacking Iran and furthermore, weapons of mass destruction will be cited as the principal justification for war. It is a concern that waging a war against Iran will worsen the cycle of war and violence in the Middle East since that has been continuing since time immemorial.
There is a pursuing debate among international community about the efficacy of these sanctions. With the impending global recession, and ongoing crisis in the Middle East and North African regions (MENA), boycotting Iranian oil will have an adverse effect on world supplies, especially for developing countries. Even though Iranian oil exports are down by 25%, the government has refused to compromise its stance on its nuclear program.
We shouldn’t forget that Iranian anger over centuries of foreign meddling in their sovereign affairs hasn’t yet disseminated. Iranians have yet to learn to forgive the US and its allies over the ousting of Mossadegh in 1953. If the international media can manipulate and present Iran as something out of the stone ages, then Iranian media has also been ambivalent in showing America and its allies as their version of the axis of evil.
Also, the Shiite faction across the world is fiercely loyal to Iran and has taken its impalpable oath of allegiance to the Ayatollah of Iran. Ali Khamenei’s term is coming to an end, but to think that the new government will be easy to manipulate like the puppet governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan could merely be more wishful thinking. Already, the sanctions have fueled bitter resentment against countries participating in them. Perhaps it’s a time for Euro-Anglo-American bodies to renew their policies and ascertain a modus vivendi that will build ties and, more importantly, will guarantee the stability of the Gulf region.
Economic sanctions throughout history have had corrosive effects on the population of a sanctioned country. Though the government of Iran is confident in its ability to ‘weather’ such sanctions, this is the biggest challenge the country will face since the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war. With the evolving recession crisis worldwide, it will be interesting to see how Iran will overcome these further imposed sanctions.
Image Courtesy of [john]