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Iran’s Redundant Threats against Hormuz Strait

Iran’s Redundant Threats against Hormuz Strait

Sunday, 8 July, 2018 - 09:30
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Countless are the times post-1979 when Iran threatened to close the globally vital Hormuz Strait. It is the Tehran regime officials’ go to whenever a crisis occurs, which take place often.

Over the course of four decades of successive threats, Tehran did not carry through with its promise once, even during the eight-year war against Iraq and that was dubbed the tanker war.

In that time the US Navy attacked Iranian ships, destroying two Iranian warships.

In return, Iran vowed it would close the strait, but did not dare do so.

Today, the same threat is being reiterated by the ultra-hardline Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which launched its latest threat yet against the Strait of Hormuz, saying that the waterway is “either for everyone or no one.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also on Tuesday hinted his country's ability to block freights leaving neighboring countries should the global community heed US demands to refrain from buying Iranian oil.

Right after, the US said that its partners provide security for the region. Playing down Rouhani’s hints on blocking Hormuz, Iran’s head of the parliamentary national security and foreign policy committee said that the president’s statements did not mean that oil could not be exported if Iran faces inhibitions on its own oil market share.

Iran's trend of making unrealized loud threats, that soon are rolled back, shows that Tehran is completely aware of consequences that may result from its decision to cut off transport and freight going through this highly strategic spot.

Reality is that Iran is actually capable of closing the strait, but it goes without saying that it is impossible for it to bear the consequences of undertaking such action. Tehran knows this well and cannot afford the risk of implementing its threats--not only because closing off the strait, through which 30 percent of the world’s oil supply passes, but also because such action represents suicide for Iran.

A global energy crisis caused by shutting down Hormuz Strait activity will see the pricing on oil shoot up as high as $400 a barrel.

Taking down such a vital route is a declaration of war not only against oil-exporting countries (oil tankers daily transport about 17 million barrels of oil from Iran, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq) using the strait, but also against the major importers.

It is worth mentioning that it isn’t only the US, Iran’s arch foe, which imports oil, but also China and Europe.

About 80 percent of oil export passing through the strait heads over to China, Japan, India, South Korea and Singapore.

China, one of Tehran’s most important economic allies, sent a strong message advising Iran to reserve from making threats on closing the strait, and call for it to devote itself into becoming a good neighbor, and learn means to coexist peacefully.

The closure of the strait is the most serious threat posed to the region and is a declaration of war against all countries which import oil from the Gulf, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong.

Had Tehran been realistically capable of controlling the strategic strait, it would have done so since the first day after its 1979 revolution. But instead, it has only been making verbal threats, that don’t echo in reality, to relieve pressures it faces from sanctions and international policy.

Today, Iran is sending a message to remaining partners in the nuclear agreement after the US exit, in order to help itself escape a disastrous political and economic crisis.

Gulf states rest assured that Iran cannot close down the strait, because it is simply a declaration of war against the world, and the Iranian regime is unable to do so and is unlikely to push for giving world countries an opportunity to unite against it.

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