A recent Gallup poll shows a resounding 56% of Iranians say sanctions imposed by the United Nations, U.S., and Western Europe have hindered their livelihoods. The relationship between the West and Iran has been strained for nearly half a century; made paramount by the 1979 Iranian revolution and the succeeding hostage crisis.
Since then U.S. administrations have been leading efforts to influence Iran's policies, especially in regards to nuclear capabilities. For the past decade, the U.S. and U.N. have used sanctions to isolate Iran from crucial gas and oil markets, in hopes to stem nuclear armament.
In 2011, the European Union instituted an oil embargo against Iran that is costing the country $4 to $8 billion per month. The sanction's windfall against Iran in 2012 accounted for a 40% drop in the countries oil exports; where oil and gas provide close to 50% of Iran's government revenue — the Tehran economy continues reeling, as its currency has been devalued by nearly a half.
This past Thursday, President Obama, enacted into law, new sanctions that aim to further isolate the Iranian economy by targeting their energy and media sectors. The law, among other things, will close loopholes on existing sanctions and create penalties for those aiding Iran's petroleum, petrochemical, insurance, shipping and financial sectors.
Ahmadinejad has said that Iran is facing a "psychological war;" if not it certainly is an attritional one. Under the new sanctions Iran is closed off completely to international trade. At this point, it's too early to tell whether the sanctions are doing more harm than good. Iran has been a polarizing case for many years and the comprehension curve is only getting steeper.
In the Middle East, Iran is one of the regional powers; they represent the arsenal for arming anyone anti-West. Regardless of internal distrust for Ahmadinejad it is reasonable to believe that the Iranians may continue to radicalize against the U.S.
In spite of these devastating restrictions to their economy, the Iranian regime, lead by the imputable "president" (whatever that means) Ahmadinejad, is showing no signs of compliance. The majority of Iranians — 63% — show willingness to take on more stringent sanctions if it means they can continue to develop their nuclear program.
Ultimately, through tightening sanctions, the U.S. hopes to garner enough internal decent within Iran to foster a regime change. These recent sanctions are simply volleys in a long game, were both sides need resolute players to field the next devastating blow. The six nations of the West – Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the United States have entered into several discussions aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear development but with no resolutions.
It's hard to garner dissent when you're the away team and trying to set the rules on someone else's home court. For the U.S. proof as to whether these sanctions are successful is further down the road. If there is not a regime change and the people are alienated, then all we will have accomplished is greater anti-American sentiments; we will have failed.