February 11, 2018


Sanctions relief, not more sanctions, may be the best way to promote reform in Iran (Connor Dilleen, 1/31/18, The Strategist)

In Rouhani, Iran has a president who appears broadly receptive to change and reform. He was returned to government in 2017 by a significant margin after having overseen the negotiation and implementation of the JCPOA. While some observers argue that he's not actually the moderate political voice that he's often portrayed as, his relatively restrained response to last year's protests suggests that he's understands the need for economic reform and an anti-corruption strategy in Iran.

After the JCPOA came into effect, Iran's national economic performance improved: growth increased from -1.8% to over 4% in a year. But significant structural issues will prevent further gains and limit the extent to which improvements in national economic performance translate into better living standards across Iran.

Within Iran, the issue of renewed US sanctions distracts from the economic problems that Rouhani's government needs to solve. More importantly, the US position on Iran and the JCPOA risks empowering hardline elements in Iran who oppose the agreement and who are quick to blame Rouhani for failing to deliver on promised economic improvements. It's not surprising that some in Iran see the hand of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad behind the protests. Iran's ongoing economic malaise feeds the hardliners' narrative that engagement with the West isn't in Iran's interests and that Rouhani can't improve the economy.

Time to bomb Iran: love bomb them.  Help them get the economy growing and the international integration going at such a pace that there's no turning back.
Posted by at February 11, 2018 11:16 AM