A Blow to Sanctions: Iran Now Powers Regional Internet

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.

  • f.tuijn
    September 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Surely it’s the US that’s destabilizing the Middle East by installing puppet regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, bombing in Yemen and Somalia, supporting the nuclear armed rogue state Israel?

  • Rich Tehrani
    September 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Thanks for the comments – here are my thoughts:
    The US is far from perfect, I am the first to admit it but the flipside to the argument is that if the US had not stepped in to assist the region decades back, Iraq would have taken over much of it.
    In supporting Israel, the US supports a country which gives more freedoms to its citizens, regardless of religion than they enjoy almost anywhere else in the middle east.
    A person in Saudi Arabia or Iran for example has to be careful what they say about the government for fear of death. In Israel, people of all religions are free to oppose the government and work to elect a new one. And the elections aren’t fixed like in many other parts of the region.
    And speaking of Iranian prison – I have relatives who were placed there for many months because they committed the terrible crime of fleeing the country.
    As an American, I am proud to protect any country which is a showcase of human rights and freedoms. I truly hope the regimes which you call puppet today – and to some extent they are, become flourishing democracies.
    One last point is that in Iraq or Afghanistan before the US invasions, you would be executed for speaking out against the government. You might even find your body fed to the dogs of the King’s son. Now – because of the US, the citizens have much more freedom than they ever had.

  • Ben
    September 20, 2010 at 8:23 am

    I don’t think that your rosy picture of Israel is accurate. Israel is an apartheid society, it means the state can chose its citizens and expel the rest. If the Iranians and Saudis could select their citizens, believe me, there would be no prison. In fact Israel is using Gaza as a large open prison. They are non-selected, non-citizens. So I think boasting about freedom and democracy in a selective society is not that much impressive.

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