Crown Center for Middle East Studies

How Sanctions Work: Iran and the Impact of Economic Warfare

A Crown Seminar with Narges Bajoghli and Vali Nasr

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Watch the recording of the event on our YouTube channel.

Iran is the most sanctioned country in the world. These comprehensive sanctions are meant to induce uprisings or pressures to change the behavior of the ruling establishment, or to weaken its hold on power. But have economic sanctions led to the intended behavioral changes? Do sanctions work in the way they should? In this Crown Seminar, Narges Bajoghli and Vali Nasr, in conversation with Naghmeh Sohrabi, will explain why Iran shows the opposite to be true. Drawing from their new book, How Sanctions Work: Iran and the Impact of Economic Warfare, Bajoghli and Nasr will argue that after four decades, the case of Iran shows that sanctions actually strengthened the Iranian state, impoverished its population, increased state repression, and escalated Iran's military posture toward the US and its allies in the region. Instead of offering an "alternative to war," sanctions have become a cause of war.

Narges Bajoghli is an anthropologist and assistant professor of Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Vali Nasr is professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Naghmeh Sohrabi is the director for research at the Crown Center and the Charles (Corky) Goodman Professor of Middle East History.