As Iran pursues its nuclear ambitions it destabilizes the entire region and threatens to spread nuclear war technology throughout the middle-east. Just one side-effect of this trend will be much easier access to nuclear material by terrorists and Iran is already a well-known state sponsor of terrorism so this point isn’t a leap of faith.
In response to Iran continuing its nuclear development, many western countries including the US are putting pressure on the country via sanctions which are making the lives of many Iranians much more difficult.
In response, Iran is working on building bridges to its neighbors with a network of road, railway, and tunnel schemes along with expensive port upgrades in what experts say is a concerted attempt to restore the country’s traditional role as a trade hub.
Simultaneously the country has in recent weeks expanded its influence online and is providing Internet transit to Afghanistan, Iraq and perhaps soon Pakistan. Iran is one of the few countries who keeps a tight lid on what its citizens have access to online. As it becomes a regional Internet provider, who knows how the country will use it’s newly found online power and influence.
The arrows tell the story. Notice Afghanistan is now relying on Uzbekistan and Iran for Internet transit instead of Pakistan
Let’s put it this way, Even the mention of a concept like net neutrality in the country can lead to an all expense paid trip to prison if not far worse.
Moreover, as Iran begins to supply more and more of its neighbors with technology such as Internet and electricity, they generate a tremendous amount of good-will in the region making any future conflict with Iran and the west a more challenging endeavor.
Perhaps the largest challenge here for politicians relying on sanctions is that the information economy continues to allow Iran to generate revenue online and subsequently physical sanctions may have a much lesser effect on influencing them.
I will not use this space to suggest an alternative US strategy at this time but one hopes the right people are reading and recognizing that the current sanction strategy is destined to become less effective over time.