Staunton, Mar. 15 – Many Russian analysts point to Iran as an example of why sanctions don’t work: people in a country that has been sanctioned are more likely to blame those who have imposed such restrictions than their own government and thus support it against outsiders, Abbas Gallyamov says. But as events in Iran have shown, that pattern holds only for a time.
The Russian commentator who once served as a Putin speechwriter says the world has watched as deference and support for Tehran among Iranians has been replaced by hatred; and he argues that the same process will occur in Russia but only much more rapidly than has been the case in Iran (publizist.ru/blogs/112974/45357/-)
The situation there shows that people initially do blame the sanctions on those who imposed them and defend their own rulers, but over time, they begin to blame the government for policies that are leading to a deterioration in their own lives given that the regime is supposed to defend them against foreign challenges not shift blame for problems to them.
Over time, Gallyamov says, Iranians shifted from indifference to the regime to anger and then to hatred. And for most of this process, they demonstrated their loyalty to the system complaining about the misuse of power rather than about the powers themselves. But recently even that has changed in Iran.
In recent years, the Iranian people have become ever more hostile to the system. If a decade ago, they came into the streets shouting “Allah Akhbar!” now they should “death to the mullahs!” And what began as a small movement in the cities has dramatically expanded in numbers and territorial scope. Iranians are falling away from Islam and attacking mullahs.
“There is no doubt,” Gallyamov says, “that the situation will develop in approximately the same way in Russia as well.” Russians aren’t going to remain the passive supporters the Kremlin thinks and when they shift, they will shift at least as quickly and likely even more quickly than has been the case in Iran.
“The first signs of the erosion” of popular support for the regime’s position “are already evident,” he writes. A year ago, 75 percent of Russians said they were focused in the first instance on the conflict in Ukraine; now, that share has fallen to 31 percent. “People are focusing on their own lives again, and emotions are beginning to be replaced by fatigue.”
Declines in the standard of living will drive this shift toward anger and hatred, and military defeats as they come in will only accelerate that change, Gallyamov says, pointedly noting that the Iranian leaders haven’t had to contend with that causal agent among the population of their country.