Sanctions – according to many – “are working”, but what does that really mean and how can they be implemented in the smartest of manners? In recent weeks, we have seen a few very interesting pieces which perhaps did not get the attention they deserved.
Shirin Ebadi, lawyer and human rights activist for the Iranian people who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, has been critical of certain aspects of the sanctions regime but astutely noted last week in an interview which appeared in Le Monde:
“They must target the regime but not the people. It is in this sense that I asked on a number of occasions that the EU ban the Iranian authorities from having access to European satellites. The regime uses them to spread its propaganda through televisions and radios, in Farsi and in fifteen other languages. It incites hatred against the Jews and Baha’is, and also ethnic minorities like the Baluchis.”
“These channels broadcast confessions from political prisoners under torture. Also, the Iranian state scrambles channels broadcast in Persian from abroad. When a regime continues to violate the law, why do we allow it to continue to use technology to its own advantage?”
More ‘smart sanctions’ have come from the airline industry. Austrian Airlines will cease flying to Iran from January 13th, while The Miami Herald reported that “KLM says the company will cancel its flights to Iran as of April, leaving Germany’s Lufthansa as the sole Western European-based carrier offering services to Tehran.”
Broader sanctions are also making their mark. Indeed Ahmadinejad himself has averred that the sanctions are biting in the right places. Back in November, the Washington Post reported his bemoaning of the fact that the “U.S.-designed financial sanctions are causing serious problems for Iran’s banking sector”.
There have, however, been numerous articles focusing on the apparent medical crisis in Iran as a result of the sanctions, a matter which I have written about at length (here and here). The Iran Daily Brief blog further underpins my argument that the Iranian government’s medical mismanagement is to blame for the shortages. The blog quotes the ‘Supreme’ Leader’s call for:
“Iran’s senior leaders to draw up appropriate plans in order to reassure the public on health and medical matters. He [Khamenei] said, “Officials and those who are conscientious should make plans and conduct administrative affairs in such a way that the people’s minds will be set at ease about the issue of [medical] treatment.”
Let us not forget that should the Iranian regime simple abide by their IAEA requirements, respect the basic human rights of their citizens and become part of the family of nations, there simply would be no need for these sanctions! But while we are in need of punitive, persuasive measures – let them at least be smart.