Sanctions hardly ever work. Now countries like Germany are contemplating loosening trade embargos with Iran.
The US has frequently raised the rationale behind sanctions that it will lead to people rising up against the government, and result in regime-toppling. The idea was applied against the Iranian, Iraqi, and Cuban regimes.
In the case of Iraq, the regime was so isolated from her traditional allies and the world at large, that the only reasonable consequence was the general population’s descent into poverty and starvation. How can a malnourished and improvised middle class that is fixated on basic needs possibly have the time and energy to ponder on political change?
In the case of Iran and Libya, sanctions seem to have the opposite effect. It pushes the states to form alliance with other marginalized regional powers – both out of economic necessity and political leverage. The case of Iran is particularly poignant. Years of sanctions have only strengthened Iran’s position in the region and resulted in closer alliances with Russia and China.
[Der Spiegel, Wiki]