Results for Tag: Iran
Hence, nothing other than direct talks can offer a prospect whereby Iran may overcome its economic woes and the US can reach a more comprehensive agreement with Iran that includes issues not covered in the JCPOA. Although the current standoff between Iran and the US may deteriorate even further, both parties are acutely aware that ultimately, talks are unavoidable even in the aftermath of any escalation that might entail needless destruction and loss of life.
As things stand today, any Iranian move in the Strait of Hormuz that can be portrayed as a threat to the “free flow of commerce” (that is, the oil trade) represents the most likely trigger for direct U.S. military action. Yes, Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for radical Shiite movements throughout the Middle East will be cited as evidence of its leadership’s malevolence, but its true threat will be to American dominance of the oil lanes, a danger Washington will treat as the offense of all offenses to be overcome at any cost.
In the background, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps captured the British tanker Stena Impero and its 23 crew members in the Gulf on 19 July, provoked by the UK detaining an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar to stop it taking oil to Syria, which some reports indicate followed pressure from the US. The EU has remained fairly silent on the matter, and Britain is contending with a possible no-deal Brexit under newly appointed prime minister Boris Johnson. While these issues remain separate from INSTEX, the mechanism’s application, membership, scope and survival could prove to be a diplomatic minefield in the current geopolitical environment.
Iran’s main bet on defying U.S. pressure is whether it can find parties that can help circumvent U.S. sanctions, especially in its oil exports. China is one of Iran’s major importers and seems to eye a strategic interest in supporting Iran’s policy of resisting U.S. maximum pressure. But the question is: to what extend can China support Iran’s resistance?
The imbalance of forces between the US and Iran all but assures Washington of military dominance over Iran. Tehran knows this, and the country can hardly want to face an invasion. Plus, the apparent failure of explosives in the two seaborne attacks does not do much for the reputation of the Iranian military. However, both the ramping up of military rhetoric and the spectre of a long-time enemy looming large plays well politically for both the Trump and Rouhani governments.