BEIRUT: Decades of Western pressure and sanctions on Iran have inflamed sectarian tensions across the region, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said.
In a lecture Friday at Central University of Chile in Santiago, Bassil denounced isolationist policies imposed by powerful nations against their foes as dangerous, destructive and counterproductive.
"The enormous pressures exerted on Iran, politically and economically, have evidently fueled the sectarian tensions in the Middle East, namely on the emerging Sunni-Shiite lines," Bassil said according to remarks released by his media office.
But he noted that the same policies "actually pushed Iran to take on a principled and firm political opposition to the West, and gave room for more radical positions on the nuclear dossier," which were the opposite of what the United States and Europe had sought.
"It also provoked Iran to creatively explore its domestic capabilities, away from the ever changing outside world."
He rejected the position that Western sanctions slowed down Iran's progress on its nuclear program, saying that the enormous pressure has only emboldened the country.
Bassil also denounced Western sanctions and against Iraq.
"Years of isolation and economic embargo served nothing, but inflicted economic and social pressures on the people of Iraq, and ended up in a full-fledged military invasion," he said.
He added that the "effects of isolation on groups are also as detrimental as they are on states," saying that the police provokes groups to adopt "irrational, extremist and self-centered choices."
"Christians in Lebanon tried to create their own agendas backed by the West, and they failed. The Shiites tried to do the same through Iran and the Sunnis through Saudi Arabia, and they will fail."