US Sanctions: Teeth but no Bite


US Sanctions: Teeth but no Bite
by bahmani

This week's announcement of the US-sponsored and UN-backed Sanctions Amendment to the 1996 Sanctions act, toughened the US stance against Iran's petroleum industry, focused on the Revolutionary Guard's financial interests, began proceedings to watch Iran's Central Bank for disbursements to terrorist organizations and weapons buys, and on a n important side note, formally associated Hezbollah part and parcel with Iran.

While all of this may be good and true, as evidenced by Iran's outraged reaction, it will only further polarize an already tense situation. You simply don't put pressure on the RG by pressuring them on paper and in their pocket books.

While it is common knowledge that the RG controls everything in Iran from food distribution, to commercial construction, to the oil and gas industry, and on and on, the main question no one seems to be smart enough to ask, is WHY?

We know the WHAT, but WHY? Why is the RG allowed to be so involved in the Iranian economy?

The RG is a para-military force designed specifically to protect Iran's ruling elite from a military coup. To now be involved in the choicest industries in Iran, and to be managing so much of the country's annual output and income begs the simplest question, WHY?

These latest US sanctions against the RG are obviously designed to hurt the RG's income balance sheet. Which would be a good corporate raiding strategy, but although the RG's financial influence on Iran's economic activities is significant, these masters of Iran's juiciest industries don't operate on a solely self preservationist traditional corporate motive. These aren't Gordon Geckos. This is the Revolutionary Guard!

To understand the RG, you have to deconstruct it. The RG is not the Immortal Guard of the Shah era. The RG are not the thug blind followers of the Basiji ilk. Although the Basijis report to the RG.

The RG is a smart, computer and internet savvy ruling machine. Part Pirate, Part Mafia, they are collectively smarter than even the ruling elite. According to Reza Aslan's relatives inside Iran, the RG not only pulls more than a few strings behind the Supreme Leader's back, they have a permanent proctological probe back there as well, and if you take the smallest hop toward faith and believe any of this, the RG is the one that affected the outcome of the recent election. Telling, is how badly managed this was. Further telling, that this might have been the first signs of division and infighting within the RG. 

The RG's primary directive however, and ultimate point of unity is to remain in power in Iran. At all and any cost. Losing power is far worse even than losing a million, a billion, or a trillion that the sanctions might cause. To lose power is to lose everything. The recent amendment to these US sanctions addresses the lesser secondary interest, namely lining their pockets while they maintain power. Big Deal! While admittedly identifying and targeting the RG's source of financial gain might make sense from a capitalist outside, not understanding that this is far secondary to them, is what makes this plan particularly useless.

Exactly who is advising Obama on Iran these days? Toyota's Product Safety Department?

These days in Tehran, the streets are efficiently quiet. Cement roadblocks have been placed strategically around the city to prevent demonstrators from gathering, and Basijis are everywhere looking and itching for the slightest evidence of any grouping of young or old people that so much as look like they might be intending to march. Consequences are immediate with instant removal off the streets, and if you even make it that far, your arrest and indefinite detention process occurs at the station.

Part of what makes the RG so good at their job, is how well they know the prey, the Iranian people, and better how to turn them against each other and to deflect the slightest attempts at resistance. The "spy on thy neighbor" tactics have been highly effective at weeding out any opposing dissent, which is why there isn't any dissent in Iran. To qualify that, there is the desire to dissent to be sure, but no outright evidence of it beyond your average enlightened Iranian's night-sweaty dreams. Mention it out loud however, and your dream very quickly turns into a nightmare.

For sanctions to work, you would need to disconnect the RG Matrix that they have successfully plumbed into the back of every Iranian's head. Including those of us who live abroad. We are that afraid of the RG and it's long poisonous tentacles. Rumors abound as to the extent of their reach, even lending themselves to stories about how the RG even owns International Calling Cards in order to listen in on Iranian-abroad to Iranian-in-Iran conversations. Facebook? The RG loves Facebook even more than the Russian sleeper spies!

For any kind of sanctions to work, it would have to enable Iranians to somehow collectively reject all the power that the RG holds over them. This requires Iranians to stop being afraid, and take back the power they took from the Shah, and unfortunately gave to the RG in 1979.

And that requires 2 things to occur at one time, courage to awaken in the Iranian people one more time, and for the RG to blink and lose their nerve.

Unfortunately none of this can be done by US Sanctions. Which is precisely why they never ever work.


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David ET

Dear Bahmani

by David ET on

The point is not if Pasdaran are concerned about ruling or their pocket, the point made is that they will be unable to fund their government and the oppression machine and that MORE people will revolt when economy falls apart and they can not be supported.


Not that I'm being labeled an Apologist...

by bahmani on

I agree with you that there is no reasonable reason why focused sanctions would not work, and that the idea to make life difficult for the IRGC would pressure them to change is sound.

However my prediction and opinion is that as much as we would all like it to, the IRGC is simply more concerned with staying in power than lining their pockets. They are that fanatical and defiant and despise Iranians that much.

Staying in power at any or ALL cost (including the cost of losing personal wealth) is more important to this very despicable layer of our unfortunate society.

Even if these sanctions impact Iranians, what can they do? They have no weapons, and they have no courage. As desperately as they might want and deserve cheap gasoline, I don't see them putting their lives on the line for it, or being capable, and organized enough to unseat the established and formidable IRGC.

All that appears will happen as a result of these sanctions, is that Iranians will be driving less.

And let us guess who is going to launch an austerity program in gasoline consumption masked in a fake conservation, anti pollution campaign?

No, Iran needs something much more significant to happen in order to make the people mad enough to change.

In the end, Iran's government and the IRGC are products of the Iranian people who have allowed them to run rampant over them, now controlling the very switch that was used to turn them on. Only the Iranian people acting as the definitively larger entity can overrun and shut down this machine they have wrought.

Anything else is false advertising, or thinly veiled colonization.

David ET

Dear Anahid

by David ET on

You brought up an important point. The reason's that those who oppose sanctions have given don't seem valid. I was undecided about sanctions and the more I read the opposing views and WHO opposes it, the more I realized that is exactly what the regime or supporters of IR system are afraid of.

Suddenly the regime has become concerened abour ordinary people? Why is it that the supporters of Islamic Republic from AN to Mousavi are the ones opposing it? Why is it that apologists oppose it? Aren't Iranians already suffering economically (just read the economic data). Whose fault is it?the sanctions or the elitist Pasdaran enterprise who has taken over everything and the government that has lousy economic policies?

Just the recent Bazar strike due to tax increase is another example of how suffucating the IR's financial flow can lead to its collapse.

Of course economic sanctions must be wide, directed to the main fnancial channels of regime and its leaders and not relied on as the only mean but combined with people movement.

But to kill the dragon, one must first stop feeding it!



Anahid Hojjati

I am with you David jan, sanctions can work

by Anahid Hojjati on

There are so many different and contradictory reasons that those who oppose sanctions express. Some say sanctions have no effect. Some say that they really hurt ordinary people. There are those who say that sanctions are irrelevant and list goes on and on. Maybe the fact that opposition to sanctions expresses reasons for its opposition in so many contradictory ways is itself one proof that those who are in favor of sanctions have better logic. I am with David ET. Just like sanctions worked for South Africa, they can work for Iran too. 

David ET

sanactions can work

by David ET on

You will see all the supporters of IR, its apologists and so called "eslahtalaban" opposing economic sanctions, because they all want IR to stay, because they know that without financial resources this regime can not survive and also Iranians when it comes to their livelihood, they all join hands regardless of their beliefs!

The sanctions , the economic sanctions work two way:

1- Reduce the financial resources of the IR militray machine and Mullahs

2- Make Bazaar and people who get effected to act against the regime and its policies.

If you want more Iranians to revolt, hit their pocket books!

At the end of the day , this expressions still remains valid: "It's the economy, stupid"

Sanctions and embargos helped collapse of the apartheid regime in South Africa but the sanctions must be wide and effect oil and gas industry on top of everything else.