Sanctions helping Tehran, says top dissident

Sanctions helping Tehran, says top dissident
# 12 August 2010 22:03 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. PUNITIVE international sanctions imposed on Iran have strengthened the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and helped its post-election crackdown on the opposition movement, a leading reformist politician and former presidential candidate says, APA reports quoting website.
More than a year after widespread unrest erupted after Mr Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election as President last June, Mehdi Karroubi blamed the US and Britain for adopting counterproductive policies to combat Iran’s suspect nuclear program, describing sanctions as a gift to the regime.
’’These sanctions have given an excuse to the Iranian government to suppress the opposition by blaming them for the unstable situation of the country,’’ Mr Karroubi said in emailed responses to questions.
Mr Karroubi, 73, a former speaker of parliament under the reformist president Mohammad Khatami, and a candidate in last year’s election, said isolating Iran would not bring democracy.
’’Look at Cuba and North Korea,’’ he said. ’’Have sanctions brought democracy to their people? They have just made them more isolated and given them the opportunity to crack down on their opposition without bothering themselves about the international attention.’’
The United Nations Security Council agreed to a new round of sanctions in June after the US and Britain, which believe Iran is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, obtained backing from Russia and China.
The tougher action against Tehran followed Washington’s rejection of a proposed deal, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, under which Iran would have handed over nearly half of its stock of low-enriched uranium in return for ’’safe’’ nuclear fuel supplies that could not be used in bomb-making.
Turkey and Brazil voted against the new sanctions, but this week Brazil announced it was reluctantly prepared to enforce them.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, who helped lead the protests after the election, co-authored a public letter with Mr Karroubi last week in which they condemned the sanctions while blaming Mr Ahmadinejad’s government for mishandling negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
’’Sanctions have targeted the most vulnerable social classes of Iran,’’ the letter said.
Mr Karroubi said he tried to keep up the opposition’s momentum by meeting Mr Mousavi weekly.
’’In the last year, they [officials] have tried to suppress me in many ways,’’ he said. ’’Once I was physically attacked … and my son Ali was arrested and severely tortured.’’
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ultimate authority in Iran, has never attacked him or Mr Mousavi by name but always referred to them as ’’leaders of sedition’’.