Millions of the regime’s political opponents would back sanctions that helped remove the ruling clique.
If current negotiations falter, international efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program may escalate to the imposition of “crippling sanctions” or even the use of military force. A crucial question that policymakers must consider is whether such punitive measures would help or hinder the popular uprising against the Iranian regime that emerged after the country’s fraudulent June 12 presidential elections.
The so-called green movement — the color has been adopted by the opposition — poses the most serious challenge to the survivability of the Islamic Republic in its 30-year history. Few analysts doubt that if it succeeded in toppling Iran’s hard-line regime, the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program would become far more susceptible to diplomatic resolution.
Before June 12, conventional wisdom suggested that both harsh sanctions and military action would likely strengthen the Islamic Republic by triggering a “rally around the regime” effect. Iran’s rulers, so the argument went, would exploit outside pressure to stoke Persian nationalism, deflecting popular anger away from the regime’s own cruelty onto the perceived foreign threat — in effect, short-circuiting the country’s incipient democratic revolution.