Can sanctions help Iranian pro-democracy activists?
The United States Congress is putting the finishing touches on sanctions that would restrict petrol exports to Iran. The United Nations is also likely to discuss new sanctions against Iran's nuclear program. Many leading Iranian human rights activists have said they oppose comprehensive economic sanctions. Instead they favor political sanctions (such as travel bans on regime officials) and say they want foreign companies to stop doing business with the regime. Other Iranian activists want the international community to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its human rights violations. Historically some dissident movements have welcomed foreign economic sanctions, such as the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa.
So what should the position of Iranian dissidents and pro-democracy activists be? Should we welcome the sanctions? Should we try and take advantage of them? Should we oppose them? Or should we propose our own?