London, Aug.12 (ANI): Punitive international sanctions imposed on Iran have strengthened President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government and assisted its post-election crackdown on the opposition Green movement, former Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who is seen as one of the country's leading reformist politicians, believes.
Karroubi told The Guardian in e-mail responses that sanctions imposed by the United States and Britain "have given an excuse to the government (of President Mohammad Ahmadinejad) to suppress the opposition by blaming them for the unstable situation of the country".
Karroubi, 73, a former speaker of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, under the reformist president Mohammad Khatami, and a candidate in last year's election, said that isolating Iran would not bring democracy.
"Look at Cuba and North Korea, have sanctions brought democracy to their people? They have just made them more isolated and given them the opportunity to crack down on their opposition without bothering themselves about the international attention," he said.
The UN Security Council agreed to a new round of sanctions on Iran in June after the US and Britain, which believe Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, obtained backing from Russia and China.
The EU, and individual countries such as the US and Britain, subsequently imposed additional punitive measures.
The move followed Washington's rejection of a proposed deal, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, under which Iran would have handed over nearly half of its stock of low-enriched uranium in return for "safe" nuclear fuel supplies that could not be used in bomb-making.
Turkey and Brazil voted against the new UN sanctions, but Brazil has since announced that it was reluctantly prepared to enforce them.
Karroubi told The Guardian: "On the one hand, the government's mishandling of the economy has resulted in deep recession and rising inflation inside the country, which has crippled the people of Iran and resulted in the closure of numerous factories. On the other hand, we have sanctions which are strengthening the illegitimate government."
Karroubi, who was imprisoned before the Islamic revolution in 1979,said that despite widespread corruption, the Shah's regime treated its opponents less harshly than the current government, partly because the Shah was sensitive to international criticism.
"But because Iran is getting more isolated, more and more they [Ahmadinejad's government] are becoming indifferent to what the world is thinking about them," he said. (ANI)