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Economic sanctions are done, Political sanctions are now the way to go


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Bamdadkhabar, Alireza Firoozi:

Translate: Siavash Safavi

Mehrdad Emadi

A few days ago, Canadian Embassy was closed in Iran and a new chapter for Iran’s international relations was opened. Iran has always tried to undermine international economic sanctions but this time West seems to be more serious in isolating Iran.

We discussed this issue with Mehrdad Emadi, foreign councellor to the EU. He believes political sanctions similar to the South African sanctions during Apartheid may be able to force Iran to abide by the international conventions.

He believes economic sanctions have done their job and new political sanctions can show Iran just how serious the international community is.

Political sanctions are complementary to the economic sanctions

Mr. Emady, first I want to know your opinion about the closing of Canadian embassy in Tehran and the cut off relations between the two countries. Do you think this might have a positive effect in pressuring the Iranian government to accept international conventions?

I believe so. Maybe in some of Iran’s management levels, the seriousness of difficulties brought by Iran’s own roguish behaviour in the international community has not been realized completely; I believe expelling a country’s diplomats is the most obvious diplomatic message to a country apart from war. It has a specific message and that is: we are not satisfied with your behaviour and policies in your international relations and we find them unacceptable. When we put all the economic sanctions and closing the embassy beside each other, it can emphasize this point more.

First Britain cut all relations with Iran, and now we witness Canada doing the same, do you think other countries might lean towards reducing or cutting off relations with Iran?

That’s a good question. I we look at South Africa in the 80s, there’s always an unwillingness to start political sanctions and that is because no country wants to be the first to do so when there’s a chance that other countries won’t follow. But whenever one or two significant countries start the sanctions, other countries might follow them and it raises the odds. For example in case of South Africa, after Britain the rest of European countries followed.  I believe with this decision and their previous decision to block 4500 bank accounts-which was unprecedented in American continent, Canada has already taken the first step, and this dam has started to crack. I wouldn’t be surprised if six month from now we witness two other powerful countries in EU decide to do cut diplomatic ties with Iran. In this case the pressure on Tehran will increase and they’ll find themselves not only thrown out of International banking system, but also international relations and that could be very dangerous for a country like Iran. In this case it’s not only the matter of financial collapse but more importantly, the countries in the region can use Iran’s isolation to their advantage and completely disregard our interests in international system.

Do you think such political sanctions are more important than economic sanctions?

I’m less aware of international relations issues since it’s not my field, but as an economist and an Iranian, I believe the economic sanctions have done what they were meant to do and there’s no logical or moral excuse for more economic sanctions, they have done their job. Now cutting the diplomatic ties would send a clearer message to Tehran. Therefore the new door that Canada has opened can prove more effective. I believe it will be even more effective than the economic sanctions. Because it sends a much serious message that we are not willing to negotiate with you even on the most basic level because your attitude and actions are completely unacceptable. I think it will be more effective and less time consuming.

How much effect can these political pressures have on national market, since we saw the immediate rise of the dollar in the national market after the Canadian embassy was closed in Tehran. Can this exacerbate the pressures?

The currency rate is the most transparent method of measuring the economic, commercial and political risks in every country. These three are not separate, they affect each other. Because currency also has an international market and a country can’t keep the currency rate at their will; so the effects on the currency rate reflects the economic conditions of that country in international economy, international relations and economic risk. Closing down the embassy and the changes in currency rate are the first chapter of more serious problems. We are also witnessing unease in many Iranians especially in major cities, because they are afraid for their investments. Those who have made their fortune in commerce will take a direct hit from this process. At this rate I believe most of these people will try to send their money abroad. Now we see that they turn all their property into currency and in many cases they immediately send their capital outside the country because they’re afraid that the political isolation would increase and other countries such as Japan, Korea and China would join the West. On the other hand, Canada was the most popular country for Iranian immigrants and this can be very disconcerting for them.

You talked about economic collapse of Iran. Do you think there will ever be an economic collapse in Iran?

The collapse I’m expecting is far from the economic collapse of the Soviet Union in its final days. In Soviet Union there was a devastating famine but I think we are far from that point; we’re not even in the same ballpark.

But if we’re talking about the collapse of manufacturing economy, I believe we’re already there. When we witness great manufacturing factories closing, factories which have been very successful in profit, that’s collapse. Collapse is when a system is completely torn apart and can no longer live. Same thing is happening even to the great plants like petrochemical companies and this collapse is very dangerous. The fact that all these factories are being closed down is the sign of economic collapse, but not the kind that we would witness a famine 6 month from now. According to economic indicators that is very improbable. But we are witnessing the growing poverty rate in the society.

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