As They Always Do, Sanctions Harm Iran’s People Instead of the Regime
Jason Rezaian responds to Trump’s feigned concern for the people of Iran:
When President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, he had the gall to say he was doing it for the Iranian people. Having lived in Iran for seven years, I have a very good idea of what Iranians probably thought when they heard this: “Thanks, Mr. President, but please don’t do us any more favors.”
Most Iranians supported the JCPOA in large part because they thought that it would mean an end to the deleterious effects of nuclear sanctions on their country. Since it was the Iranian people that bore the brunt of the costs of these sanctions, it was only natural that they would welcome an agreement that promised to end them. When the agreement was concluded, there was great hope that this would allow Iran to be treated as a more or less normal country, but that hope has dwindled over the last three years and has now been dashed. By reneging on U.S. obligations, Trump wounded the agreement and once again spat in the faces of the people of Iran, and he did all this while claiming to wish them well. As Rezaian explains, the resumption of U.S. sanctions will mostly hurt ordinary Iranians:
The bleak economic climate in Iran will worsen. On Wednesday, Iran’s currency, the rial, slipped to its weakest position against the U.S. dollar in history. It will almost certainly continue its epic slide — and the purchasing power of Iranians who have no reliable access to dollars will drop along with it. Fear of new sanctions will only exacerbate the trend.
Reimposing sanctions after Iran already made major concessions isn’t just a treacherous and dishonorable thing to do, but will also have real negative effects on the well-being of people in Iran. Iran hawks often like to talk about their support for the Iranian people, but that is empty rhetoric. In practice, they are the ones that back every policy that punishes and harms people in Iran in a misguided attempt to strike at the regime, and this is what they are doing again. Iranians have had enough of the hawks’ “help” to last them several lifetimes.
Rezaian notes that the Trump administration will be discouraging political change inside Iran by making life harder for the people:
The majority of Iranians will not suddenly become more supportive of the regime in Tehran. That won’t happen. But as I witnessed during the last round of sanctions that led to the nuclear negotiations, when people are squeezed economically, their needs and aspirations become much more about survival than about working toward change.
Trump’s decision is a gift to Iran’s hard-liners twice over, since it vindicates their warnings not to trust the U.S. and it weakens the opposition and demoralizes Iranians who might be inclined to seek political change.