April 11, 2023

Lifting sanctions will not empower Iranian protesters

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by Farhad Rezaei, Senior Research Fellow

The West should strengthen targeted sanctions and fund striking workers instead.

Seven months have passed since the murder of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s “morality police,” which led to nationwide protests, and the Iranian regime’s future remains highly debated.

While some advocate for a combination of internal protest and external pressure in order to achieve regime change, others argue that sanctions hurt the protesters. Removing sanctions, the argument goes, could be the key to empowering Iran’s democratic movement.

The recent Foreign Affairs article “How Sanctions Hurt Iran’s Protesters” presents this argument, asserting that economic pressure leads to financial instability, which in turn undermines the protesters’ ability to bring about change. The article further posits that by lifting sanctions on the regime, the democratic movement could be significantly strengthened.