Sanctioning success? assessing the role of sanctions in the militarization of Iran
McKnight, Richard L.
Looney, Robert E.
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In its three decade history, the Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Englab Eslami, or Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, evolved from the relatively modest role of ad hoc security apparatus into its current state as an independent and professional, armed force enmeshed in the political and economic life of modern Iran. In tracing the history of the Guards, one cannot help but take note of how multiple rounds of U.S. sanctions have set the stage for this transformation. Sanctions imposed under the Carter and Reagan administrations created a defense gap by first severing ties between the Iranian and U.S. defense industries and then choking the flow of U.S. war materiel through intermediaries. The Guards, buoyed by their connection to Iranian defense conglomerate DIO, rose with the tide of domestic wartime spending; emerging from the Iran-Iraq War with a considerable construction and manufacturing base. The Guards were then able to leverage this base to dominate postwar reconstruction in Iran, spurred by a gap in foreign development activity exacerbated by the Clinton era sanctions. Today, smart sanctions appear to continue this trend by the creation of a finance gap that is tilting the ongoing privatization of Iran's burgeoning public sector squarely in favor of the Guards.
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