James Leon |
The European Union (EU), the United States and the United Kingdom have imposed sanctions against Iranian ministers, generals, police chiefs, members of the judiciary, Islamic organizations, state media or security forces for the repression of protests in which calls for the end of the Islamic Republic.
The sanctions consist mainly of the freezing of the assets of the affected persons and the prohibition of travel to the sanctioned territories.
But the sanctions have not seemed to affect the state’s repression of a revolt in which nearly 500 people have died, 20,000 individuals have been detained and for which four protesters have been executed, one of them in public, since September.
Do these sanctions help? Help the protesters?
“They are useless,” Raffaele Mauriello, an Iranologist and tenured professor of Spanish Language and Literature at Allame Tabatabaí University in Tehran, responds to EFE.
“Sanctions worsen the rights and security situation in the country. By putting pressure on Iran from outside, there is more pressure inside for the citizens”, assures the specialist.
These restrictive political measures also carry little weight given that Iran lives under the economic sanctions that former US President Donald Trump reimposed in 2018 as part of his “maximum pressure” policy against Iran, according to Mauriello.
Europe is not part of these unilateral US sanctions, but they have caused economic relations between Iran and the EU to fall to a minimum.
The analyst also explains that a consequence of the 2018 US sanctions was the withdrawal of two million women from the Iranian labor market due to the worsening of the Persian country’s economy, in an example of the dubious usefulness of these measures.
“Sanctions do not help the Iranians,” says the expert.
Analyst Daniel Bashandeh also does not believe the sanctions measures will have an impact on the Islamic Republic or its response to the protests since “the regime can reorganize internally and minimize the impact of the sanctions,” as it has done for decades.
“Throughout these 40 years, international sanctions have not been able to change the country’s internal policy,” the political analyst specializing in the Middle East told EFE.
Still, he believes that the sanctions “are important steps on the part of the EU” as it is “important that the EU always stands on the side of the people of Iran in their democratic aspirations.”
That was precisely the message of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, after the approval on Monday of the fourth round of European sanctions against 37 people and entities from Iran.
“To the Iranians: we hear you. The EU will continue to support your aspirations for freedom and dignity”, Michel wrote on Twitter, after the announcement of the new sanctions.
visas and scholarships
But several young people interviewed by EFE believe that these are only symbolic gestures and that the EU could help Iranians who are asking for more freedoms by shouting “woman, life, freedom” in a more concrete way.
“They could give young Iranians visas to study outside the country, as has been done in the case of Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion,” says an engineering student from Tehran.
A point of view supported by the analyst Esfandyar Batmanghelidj who also considers that the recent sanctions are “symbolic gestures” that “do not help the Iranian protesters”, who want “real support”.
Batmanghelidj believes that the EU or the US can do little “to change the nature of the Iranian regime or the brutality with which the Iranian state dominates society”, but they can help the Iranians.
“Perhaps that means giving young people the opportunity to study abroad, having access to scholarships and programs that give them the chance to grow up in an environment other than Iran,” the US-based analyst said on Twitter.
Instead, Europe is discussing the possibility of designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the elite military corps whose mission is to protect the theocratic system of the Islamic Republic, as a terrorist group.
The United States designated the Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization” in 2019, in an unprecedented move, the first time it had declared a part of another government a terrorist group.
“Has that designation prevented any horror?” Batmanghelidj wonders.