President Trump opted for additional sanctions against Iran in response to the shooting down of a U.S. drone last week, and one expert says the new economic penalties will make Iran leaders even less popular among its own people.
The new sanctions are aimed at key individuals inside the regime, including Supreme Leader Ali Khameini as well as military officials and even Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
“This is an attempt by the administration to hit back at Iran for its escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf but do so in a non-military fashion. There’s been a lot of ink spilled in the media about how President Trump is rushing to war, but it’s very clear that he doesn’t prefer military confrontation,” said American Foreign Policy Council Vice President Ilan Berman.
“He wants Iran to pay but he wants Iran to pay in a way that doesn’t escalate actual physical hostilities,” added Berman.
But while Iran avoided military strikes, Berman believes the sanctions could do even greater damage for the long-term health of the regime.
“This is a very shrewd move by the administration because it plays on a fault line that is very visible within Iran but much less so outside. Ordinary Iranians understand very well that the supreme leader and the unelected clergy that run Iran have enriched themselves tremendously at the expense of ordinary people,” said Berman.
“The administration is trying to widen that rift that exists between the Iranian people and the Iranian leadership by highlighting just how corrupt that leadership is,” he said.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Berman explain why he thinks the sanctions will force Iran back to the bargaining table and why he believes Trump’s decision to pull back military strikes sent the wrong message.