Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Democracy Promotion versus Engagement with Iran,’ Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 41, No. 3 (2011). pp.471-483.
Publication year: 2011

US President Barack Obama has tried two very distinct policy options in dealing with Iran. The engagement policy was designed to make a break with the past experience and re-start US-Iran relations on a positive footing. This approach was consistent with the advice offered to the new administration by Iran analysts and leaders of non-governmental organisations. The implication of the engagement policy, however, was sidelining the US commitment to democracy and human rights in Iran. This policy could offer little to the budding reform movement in 2009. The alternative policy of containment was not beneficial to the reform movement either. The policy shift at the end of 2009 was a response to Iran’s failure to comply with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The containment policy, manifested in the fourth round of UN-imposed sanctions on Iran, has led to a further entrenching of the hard-liners in the regime and intolerance of internal dissent.