Saturday, July 7, 2018

Dark Clouds Over The Persian Gulf

Over the Persian Gulf, Dark Clouds have Gathered Once Again

Last week, the US State Department said that Washington will attempt to persuade its allies to stop purchasing oil from Iran completely by early November. Reportedly, negotiations are already underway with representatives from India and China. Afterwards, Iranian President H. Rouhani said that he considers the USA’s wish to stop Iranian oil exports is not feasible; stressing that Iranian authorities would take certain steps that will allow the IRI to sell oil at the same volume. Additionally, the head of the Islamic republic called Washington’s actions incompatible with international law.

The command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps went even further. A representative of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran threatened to block the transit of oil from the Persian Gulf and to close the Strait of Hormuz to some countries if the USA manages to ban the sale of Iranian oil. Deputy Head of the IRGC “Sarala” Ismail Kusari clarified that the closure of the strait would be in response to the halting of Iranian oil exports. He noted that 20% of the world’s oil exports pass through this site. 

General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Al-Quds special unit, made an even sharper statement that if Iranian oil exports are blocked by sanctions, then Tehran will make it so that other countries in the region also could not sell oil. According to him, a part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is ready to implement the forceful scenario, and they have enough forces and means to do it.

It is still unclear whether Trump will attempt the oil embargo against Iran. So far, this seems like yet another blackmail and bluff on the eve of the Russian-American summit in Helsinki and talk of an upcoming “deal” regarding Syria to the disadvantage of the IRI. But bearing in mind Trump’s volatile temperament, unpredictability, love for shock value, and total misunderstanding of the Middle Eastern region, it is possible that he will decide to do it all the same. In any case, the return of the harsh anti-Iranian sanctions of the Obama era seems quite extremely likely. Another question is whether Iran would risk cutting off the Strait of Hormuz, understanding that it would be hard to imagine a more valid reason for a direct-armed conflict with the USA and its Arabic neighbors in the Persian Gulf. This is especially true in a situation where America, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are already prepared for such a conflict – and not just hypothetically. In a sense, the closure of shipping through the Persian Gulf could become a prologue to a new Persian Gulf War. The damage from such a development of the situation would be rather comparable to the damage of Iraq’s 1991 annexation of Kuwait under Saddam Hussein, but quite larger in scale.

Washington, of course, couldn’t care less that in the event of a real war in the Persian Gulf, all of its countries would be the first to suffer, following the destruction of oil and gas fields, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dead and refugees, not to mention the collapse of the world energy market. It is unlikely that the conservative regimes of the Arabian monarchies would be able to survive all of this.

All that remains is to await Trump’s decision on the embargo and Iran’s answer to it—if, of course, it takes place or he will merely again blow his cheeks, wave his weapons, and then let it all leak away, like he just did during the conflict with North Korea. Trump’s ambitions are off the scale, and he is clearly ready for some adventures. Only the control system of the USA itself, with its checks and balances, can prevent the realization of the insane ideas of the latest messiah to become the leader of America.

No comments: