A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why Iran's Economic Crisis is Not Necessarily Good News

In the wake of the devaluation of the Iranian riyal, agitation, Bazar strikes and demonstrations have been rocking Iran in recent days. You can find accounts here and here, the latter with video, and analysis here.

At The Guardian, Peter Beaumont warns against facile judgments that this shows that "sanctions are working," and that this is good news.
But what does "sanctions are working" actually mean? Some hawks have read it as the possible beginning of the end for Iran's nuclear programme and the collapse of the clerical regime. For others, including those anxious to avoid conflict over Iran, it has been seized on as a suggestion that the crisis might be resolved through negotiation and non-military pressure.
The reality is that the political, economic and social impact of sanctions can produce very different results from those allegedly desired, more often than not hurting ordinary people. And there is a third scenario, in which sanctions might actually make the confrontation with Iran more dangerous still.
 It's worth a read, and the final paragraph is indeed cause for reflection:
So to those celebrating Iranian pain, be careful what you wish for in desiring a crisis. It was hyperinflation under a regime of reparations that contributed to the collapse of the Weimar Republic. Few foresaw then what might occur. And few, now, are considering what a sanctions-triggered economic crisis might really mean for Iran and the region.

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