Natan Sharansky isn’t making much sense:
Is the Free World, led by Washington, so fixated on a short-term deal with the latest media-hyped dictator as to miss altogether the real opportunity held out by the present moment?
It’s not entirely clear what Sharansky thinks the “real” opportunity is, but he seems to believe that if the U.S. and other Western governments just “stand firm” in strangling Iran economically that the regime will collapse. That’s a huge assumption, and it doesn’t have any evidence to support it. In most important respects, Rouhani isn’t anything like Gorbachev. He doesn’t have the same authority that Gorbachev had, and he isn’t in a position to implement changes at home that would lead to the regime’s dissolution. Betting on forcing regime collapse through continued economic pressure is foolish, and it perpetuates a needlessly cruel policy.
Another major difference from the Soviet experience is that many Iranian dissidents and human rights advocates object to the sanctions already imposed on their country, and they are adamantly against the imposition of additional sanctions. As they often do, sanctions have been suffocating middle-class Iranians and weakening the Iranian opposition, which in turn makes internal political reform less likely to happen. Refusing to provide even the slightest sanctions relief does these Iranians no favors, and instead it actively harms and undermines the opposition. The hard-liners most convinced that Iran’s current regime is on the “edge” of collapse are advocating the policies that will help the regime stifle and smother its domestic opposition. In doing so, they help to ensure that Iran’s current leaders can more easily retain their hold on power, and they are helping to delay political change inside Iran.