Today when the world celebrates the lifting of US sanctions against Iran, and CNN’s headline blasts out “Flight to Freedom”, on the previously imprisoned Americans that has been released as a part of the peace agreement, I wanted to have an Iranian’s point of view. A friend of mine gave his opinion, on the condition of anonymity.
“Today, 17th of January 2016, Iranians woke up to their first day without sanctions. Whilst a lot of people will rejoice and feel relieved from an economical sense, pragmatically this just means Iran has gone back to 2006 when (the latest) sanctions were put in place.
During the sanctions the wealthy, those with connections, those who succumbed to corruption found ways to bypass international laws and got richer. Of course as a consequence the country as a whole got poorer because a lot of oil and other resources were sold far below market price to China, India and elsewhere or re-branded as some other country. Whilst people were complaining about medicine shortage, sports cars were being imported at a never seen rate.
People similar to Babak Zanjani and countless others are now eagerly awaiting the influx of money. 100 billion dollars of assets are set to be released and Western companies can do business again.
Except, no one asks themselves, who will the money go to? Will the removal of sanctions act like some cataclysm to unlock the gross unemployment, the gross violations of human rights and everything else that is wrong with the system?
Of course not. To understand why, you simply have to look at the terms of the nuclear negotiations.
The West wanted Iran to stop pursuing even the ability to obtain an atomic bomb and Iran wanted to export its oil again and buy stuff from the global market. What’s missing?
Not a single mention of release of political prisoners, human rights violations, indictment of international criminals, free elections, gender equality and so much more. In the end it was about protecting interest. Iran could continue to do whatever it wanted internally to its population as exemplified by the record number of executions in 2015 so long as it stayed off course for an atomic bomb. If the West was serious about handling the Iranian regime it could have easily put further terms in the negotiations that meant release of all political prisoners and a return to free elections. In all likelihood they probably could have got the Iranians to agree sooner or later.
In the end the removal of sanctions will simply mean that those with power will now have access to more cheap capital to invest in their projects and assign their family members and friends to various positions.
Yes, probably there will be jobs created. Someone after all has to do the hard labour work.
But will Iran change for the better? Will the arrest of those who dare to oppose with nothing but their words, stop?
Of course not. Internally things will continue and the everyone will be happy that diplomacy has worked.“