Is Iran spinning out of control?

Posted on March 6, 2012


The dynamics of the current situation appear to make conflict inevitable.

Is Barack Obama's sanctions policy pushing Ayatollah Khomeini into a corner? (Images via Wikipedia)

As the US and its allies ramp up sanctions on Iran, forcing it to admit that the pressure is “crippling”, analysts are expressing concern that the strategy may be counter-productive. “Iran may well decide that rather than negotiate a compromise, its best choice is actually to cross the nuclear weapons threshold, with fateful consequences for all,” writes Martin S. Indyk, vice-president and director of Foreign Policy at The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC.

US president Barack Obama’s premise is that only by bringing the Iranian regime to its knees, through sanctions on its central bank and concerted efforts to reduce its oil exports, will it give up on its nuclear-weapons aspirations. The reality is that it may have the opposite effect. As the sanctions become more crippling, the Iranians may conclude that they have no choice but to press ahead in acquiring the ultimate means of assuring its own survival.

Writes Indyk: “Sadly, the dynamics of the current situation appear to make conflict inevitable. We are now engaged in a three-way game of chicken in which for [Iran’s Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, [Israel’s prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and even Obama, physical or political survival makes blinking more dangerous than confrontation.”

The effects of this game of chicken on oil prices will also determine whether the fragile global economic recovery picks up steam. According to analysts at Standard & Poor’s, a sudden spike in oil prices to $150 would immediately jeopardize the improvements in both developed and emerging markets.

The elections in Iran and and the US are adding fuel to the fiery rhetoric and sabre-rattling on this issue. It may be time to seek a different diplomatic path to resolution, one that lifts the fog of possible war and allows the regional economies to remain relatively stable.

— Yazad Darasha

More intelligence on the sanctions on Iran (

Posted in: Economy