New sunctions on Iran: motives and possible consequencies.

10 m.   |  2019-09-18

In the region of the Persian Gulf in parallel to the conflict between Iran and the US, sanctions were imposed on Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran and on Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran by the US.

In general, the word “sanction”, which in Persian means “tahrim” is one of the mostly usued words among Iranians. There is no discussion on Iran, that will not touch upon the sanctions, that is, all the social-political part, which deals with the issues of domestic and foreign policy of Iran, is conditioned by those “tahrims”, the sanctions. 

Sanctions can be discussed from two points of view: economic sanctions and political sanctions. Economic sanctions give a hundreed percent result, that is, the aim which is placed within the economic sanctions, has its negative and even cruel influence. It refers to ordinary citizens: restrictions on the sale of civil aircraft, medicine, food and so on.

As for political sanctions, the issue can be studied within the two dimensions. The high-ranking officials, who are in charge of economic policy, such as the head of the central bank, various deputies, chiefs of the large organizations, who play a major role in Iran’s exports, the sunctions on these officials also do provide a hundred percent result.

Another part are the high-ranking officials, which we already mentioned: Supreme Leader and Foreign Minister. Here sanctions are related to Iran-West political agenda, touching upon the issues which are more problematic in the relatins between Iran-West, particularly between Iran-USA and Iran-EU. Sanctions are provided in the context of these issues.

Sanctions imposed on the Supreme Leader and the Foreign Minister were not unprecedented, as the international media discussed. The sanctions started since 2009, I mean the ones imposed on the high-ranking officials. When the former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried to be re-elected in 2009 for the second time, and related to the results of the pre-election campaign for the second term, Iran’s society, particularly most of Tehran’s electorate was dissatisfied with the results and during that period, “The Green” movement was formed in Iran, led by Mir Hossein Mousavi. At that time, since 2009-2010, the EU started to impose sanctions on high-ranking officials of Iran, of course the US was also active,  but the main actions were taken by the EU. Sanctions have different grounds. In 2009, the main reasons were the issues related to human rights violations in Iran, and the senior officials, who were sanctioned were mainy accused of violating the human rights (among them were prosecutors, military and so on).

As for to the US latest policy of sanctions, they are related to the Iran’s activities in Syria, to the the overall Middle East policy of the US, particularly with the actions against Iran, that is, Washington accuses Tehran of causing troubles and discord in Syria and Iraq. That is to say, the US accuses Tehran of financing terrorism and other activities. Here that political agenda is

also obvious, both in case of the EU and the US.

Let’s now see how efficiently do these sanctions work and what possible developments are expected as a result of these sanctions. As we have already mentioned, in case of economic sanctions, the fields were quite clear, such as in the field of oil, gas, bank and so on.

In case of officials, the justification for applying the sunctions is a little bit general. The rationale for it is the main claim to freeze foreign funds of the Supreme Leader and the Foreign Minister. On the other hand, this is the primary rationale, which is published, but that, in turn, brings other purposes. 

Iran’s Supreme Leader is both the main foreign policy-maker and at the same time he is the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s Armed Forces. A few days ago, during the US sanctions on Supreme Leader, sunctions were also imposed on 8 high-ranking servicemen from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Here, a few goals are pursued. First one is the psycological pressure, and the sanctions imposed on high-ranking officials mostly have a psycological importance. It tries to affect both Iranian society and the leaders from Iran’s partner countries and to restrict contacts of Iranian officials with their partners as far as possible. This was the first one, in case of the Supreme Leader. Second one referrs to the servicemen, who are associated with the Supreme Leader and are active in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, that is, the main goal of the US is to try limitting military actions of Iran in the territory of Middle East.

It was a few months ago, that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran was included in the list of terrorist organizations by the US. This is the continuation of those actions. The next goal, is to influence on Iran’s domestic political developments, as the most important posts in Iran are assigned by the Supreme Leader, particularly the force structures and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Thus, by taking such actions, the US tends to call on the structures responsible for Iran’s security to take such drastic measures, which may lead Iran to withdraw from the nuclear deal. It is in Iran’s interests to maintain the nuclear deal for now.

A few days ago, when Foreign Minister Zarif visited New York, he was told that a sanction would be imposed on him in a few days, that is, before Foreign Minister’s arrival in New York, the US was already trying to prevent his visit, which eventually took place. In the US the Foreign Minister of Iran does his best to use the given opportunity to emphasize Iran’s effective policy during the meetings with the US public and political circles, as well as to show that the United States is left alone in its policy of sanctions.

Summing up the actions of these sanctions, it should be stated, that the situation now is quite different: if a decade ago the US and the EU were taking joint actions, now the EU, particularly Germany, France and Great Britain expressed their concern and dissatisfaction with the sanctions imposed on the Supreme Leader and in particular on the foreign minister. This is a very important factor for Iran. The next fact, which is very important and of which Iran’s Foreign Ministry and Iranian diplomacy will try to take advantage, is related to the launch of the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. For years, Iran has been presenting the claims, that if Iran’s actions are limited within the UN, Iran through the help of its parters will try to regularly raise the issue of moving the UN headquarters from New York to Geneva  and in this context, it will try to benefit diplomatically from that situation.