ISIS Iran Report

Iran’s Government Split over Impact of Sanctions

Iran’s Government Split over Impact of Sanctions photo

September 15, 2010

Former Iranian president and head of the Assembly of Experts, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, yesterday lambasted the government for failing to take seriously the impact of international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.  The prominent cleric stated, “Gentlemen, you should be vigilant and careful.  Do not downplay the sanctions…people should not be tricked.”  In an acknowledgement of the effectiveness of the sanctions, Rafsanjani also said, “We have never had such intensified sanctions and they are getting more and more intensified every day.  Wherever we find a loophole, they block it.”  Rafsanjani’s criticisms are seen as a lashing against the policies and approach taken by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who defeated him in Iranian presidential elections in 2005.  Ahmadinejad has brushed off Western and United Nations Security Council sanctions.

Reuters reported that Rafsanjani’s rebuke highlights what could be a growing high-level schism between parliamentary and judiciary pragmatists who favor avoiding conflict with the international community, and hardliners such as Ahmadinejad who appear to be downplaying the effect of sanctions and entrenching themselves for a long battle with Western powers.  Unilateral and United Nations sanctions appear to be having a significant effect on Iran’s sales of crude oil, and its shipping, financial, and trading activities. 

However, Rafsanjani also called for unity against “attempts to create division” within the ruling elite, indicating that the government may not allow differences over the appropriate response to sanctions to ultimately damage the regime’s hold on power.  It remains to be seen what actions, if any, the government will take over the long term with regard to the nuclear program should the negative effects of sanctions become more pronounced or incite popular unrest.

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