By Hamideh Taati
The Iranian regime is once again using the Strait of Hormuz as a bargaining tool to threaten the United States. Following the news that the United States would not be extending any of the waivers that were put in place for a number of countries regarding their imports of Iranian oil, regime officials responded in a threatening way.
The head of the Iranian Regime’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval force, Alireza Tangsiri, said that if Iran was going to be blocked from the Hormuz Strait it would quite simply close it. He said: “In the event of any threats, we will not have the slightest hesitation to protect and defend Iran’s waterway.”
When the U.S. initially announced that it would take measures to cut Iran regime’s oil exports, the regime used the exact same threat saying that it would make sure that no countries would be able to export their oil. The Hormuz Strait is instrumental in the movement of oil around the world, with around 20 per cent of the world’s oil passing through it.
The threat was supported by regime’s President Hassan Rouhani and its Leader Ali Khamenei also confirmed that the entire leadership was behind this.
President Trump would not let the threat go and he warned Iran in one of the strongest statements he has made to any foreign country. Trump warned the regime that if it ever dared to threaten the United States ever again, it would “suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before”.
The Strait is a protected international channel therefore any attempts by Iran to close it would be illegal. Iran likes to think that it is in full control of the Strait, but in actual fact, much of the shipping lanes are in Oman’s waters. The Strait is also protected by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea under Article 37.
Any attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz will almost certainly result in military action. The Iranian regime is perhaps banking on the support of its allies in the region, but it must clearly underestimate its enemies. Russia would have the possibility to veto any attempts by the United Nations Security Council to force the reopening of the Strait, however the chaos and disruption caused by the closure would be so huge that Russia itself would be under huge pressure.
Faced with the possibility of a military conflict, it would be very foolish of Iran to follow through with its threats. Iran regime would be disrupting many more countries than just the United States and it cannot afford to make more enemies at this crucial stage.
Furthermore, its threats to cause major international disruption do nothing other than confirm that the United States is justified in its maximum pressure campaign on Iran regime. Mullahs are facing a very difficult immediate future, especially in terms of the economic consequences of the U.S. oil export restrictions and the domestic pressure being applied by the angry and determined people of Iran. Isolating themselves even further on the international front does not seem like the best move to make right now.