via Lobe Log

Commentary magazine’s Jonathan Tobin warns the Obama Administration that it should not chalk up Iranian hyperinflation (the rial fell to 35,000:1 against the US dollar this week) and the outbreak of bazaar protests over the situation as a sign of success in forcing the Islamic Republic to abandon its nuclear program. While the Obama Administration was quick to cite the foreign exchange collapse as proof that its policy of sanctions is forcing Iran to negotiate, Tobin suggests that further punitive economic measures should be taken (against the energy sector, increasingly dominated by the IRGC) and that the US should adopt a clear “red line” regarding the use of force against Iran:

There are things that can be done to heighten the Islamists’ problems in Iran. Sanctions must be increased and more stringently enforced. After all, though ordinary Iranians are suffering, the amount of oil income flowing into the country is still enough to support the needs of the government, the military and the nuclear program.

Just as important would be the demonstration of Western resolve that has been lacking in recent years. In 2009, President Obama’s relative silence about the violence in Tehran discouraged protesters and assured the ayatollahs that they had nothing to fear from the United States. That set the stage for the last three years of failed diplomacy because Iran’s leaders have never believed that the president meant what he said about preventing them from going nuclear.

If Washington continues to soft pedal its Iran policy and places its hopes on domestic unrest producing a change in policy, the only result will be to perpetuate the current stalemate. Like Assad, the ayatollahs have no plans to give up power.

Michael Rubin also wrote in Commentary that while “Iranians are not fools: they recognize the result of the regime’s gross economic mismanagement”, the damage to the rial is not going to force Iran to make greater compromises because “IRGC veterans” are running the show.

The US Treasury Department asserts that the sanctions against the IRGC are effective, yet according to some reports, the IRGC has found ways to use them to its advantage and to the disadvantage of traditional merchants like those who went out onto the streets today.