The Iranian government’s crackdown on protesters is likely to “intensify” in the coming days despite sanctions from Canada and international condemnation, an expert said. It was “predictable” that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed foreign nationals for the unrest.
Iran has been the subject of protests for the past three weeks since the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being detained by Iran’s ethics police. The protesters have called for greater freedoms and an end to the oppression that binds women in the Islamic Republic.
On Monday, Canada formally imposed sanctions on 25 individuals and nine entities “involved in Iran’s systematic and egregious human rights abuses,” including police chief. Iranian morality.
Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Denver, told CTV News Channel that while these sanctions are important, they are unlikely to do much to quell the unrest. is fine.
“As far as I know, the head of Iran’s ethics police doesn’t have any plans to come to Canada and he doesn’t have any known assets here, so the actual effect on the lives of These oppressors are pretty limited,” he said.
However, he praised the specific nature of the Canadian sanctions, pointing out that US President Joe Biden’s statement on Monday about the situation was vague. Biden announced that perpetrators of violence will face additional costs without specifics.
“The Canadian statement is actually much more precise and forward-looking – they actually single out the individuals responsible for the repression in Iran and target them with sanctions,” Hashemi said.
“You don’t want widespread sanctions to affect innocent people who are not responsible for the policies of the Islamic Republic.”
The value of Canada’s sanctions is more symbolic, and Hashemi hopes other countries will follow suit.
“They are symbolic that is very important to the protesters in Iran and also to the Iranian-Canadians, who are also very upset about what is happening in their homeland,” he said. Iran
He added that decision-makers in Canada should listen to leaders in Iran about how they can take next steps to help in this situation.
Iran’s supreme leader made his first public comment on the protests on Monday, calling them “riots” and blaming interference from the US and Israel rather than addressing the criticism. of protesters towards Iran’s policies.
“This is right there in the authoritarian leader’s play, chapter three: when you have a great crisis, you blame a foreign enemy, you never take responsibility,” Hasemi said.
“It’s a sign of panic, it’s a sign of despair, and in fact it will probably encourage protesters, because the Supreme Leader is, as expected, not bear any responsibility for its policies that have brought Iran to this point. crisis.
Hasemi hopes the protests will continue, but warns that it is unlikely the situation will turn in their favor anytime soon.
“This is a very brutal regime, they will not simply pack up and leave because of these protests, they will suppress it very strongly,” he said.
“And it remains to be seen how far the crackdown will go, and whether the protesters will be able to resist the crackdown that is currently underway but is – I suspect – will increase very rapidly in the coming weeks. and next month.”