Business As Usual

by Patrick Appel

Hooman Majd thinks sanctions against Iran are doing little good:

The suggestion that tensions within the leadership have been aggravated by the sanctions, or that sanctions are responsible for Iran's apparent willingness to talk, is a misreading of the political scene in Tehran. At a base level, it ignores the long history of clashes and rivalry between strong personalities in government and among the ayatollahs. Moreover, history has shown that outside threats tend to create unity rather than divisions among Tehran's leadership; that unity does not need to be coerced. Yet the supreme leader's call to stop the squabbling is likely motivated by a deep -- perhaps even occasionally paranoid -- fear that to respond to hostility with conciliation is to fall into a trap that the West has set for Iran, one in which Iran suddenly finds itself beholden to greater powers or subject to a "soft" or "velvet revolution." Put simply, now is not the time for petty infighting. And even those conservatives who retain their distaste for Ahmadinejad won't want to jeopardize their good standing with Khamenei -- especially as the 2013 presidential election approaches -- by appeasing Iran's enemies, real or imagined.