Sanctions … can actually work?

Pool/Getty Images An intriguing report from the International Crisis Group this week contains what may be the first good news to come out of Zimbabwe in years. Cracks are appearing in the ruling ZANU-PF party, the research group notes, and President Mugabe may be on his way out: After years of political deadlock and continued ...

603467_070309_mugabe_05.jpg
603467_070309_mugabe_05.jpg

Pool/Getty Images

An intriguing report from the International Crisis Group this week contains what may be the first good news to come out of Zimbabwe in years. Cracks are appearing in the ruling ZANU-PF party, the research group notes, and President Mugabe may be on his way out:

After years of political deadlock and continued economic and humanitarian decline, a realistic chance has at last begun to appear in the past few months to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, by retirement of President Robert Mugabe, a power-sharing transitional government, a new constitution and elections. Both factions of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition and powerful elements of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party support the concept in outline.

Pool/Getty Images

An intriguing report from the International Crisis Group this week contains what may be the first good news to come out of Zimbabwe in years. Cracks are appearing in the ruling ZANU-PF party, the research group notes, and President Mugabe may be on his way out:

After years of political deadlock and continued economic and humanitarian decline, a realistic chance has at last begun to appear in the past few months to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, by retirement of President Robert Mugabe, a power-sharing transitional government, a new constitution and elections. Both factions of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition and powerful elements of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party support the concept in outline.

Crucially, the group found that targeted sanctions have played an important role in undermining Mugabe’s support:

Targeted EU and U.S. sanctions on senior regime figures are working. ZANU-PF leaders cite their personal financial situations as motivation for wanting Mugabe out. “We have businesses which we worked hard over years to set up which are collapsing. It is about time we change course”, said a senior politburo member.

The possible implications stretch far beyond Zimbabwe. Targeted sanctions, which limit the activity of specific regime members, rather than the entire country, are a relatively recent innovation. The hope has been that they would better pressure a target government while sparing its citizens needless suffering. Officials in Sudan, Iran, and North Korea are currently on the receiving end of these appeals to their unenlightened self-interest. The news out of Zimbabwe is reason to hope they might be similarly persuaded.

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