By Jon Dougherty
President Donald Trump campaigned on ending wars in the Middle East and southwest Asia, but he may have another on his hand if he goes through with a plan to end waivers for Iranian oil.
And in the meantime, he could cause a major spike in oil prices, which have been inching upward for six months anyway.
The White House is likely preparing to end Iranian crude oil export waivers after they expire May 2, which would take an additional 1 million barrels of oil off the market per day. If that happens, Tehran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, according to the state-run Fars news agency, which quoted a senior Iranian military official.
“The Strait of Hormuz based on international law is a waterway and if we are prevented from using it, we will close it,” Fars reported, citing Alireza Tangsiri, head of the revolutionary guards navy force.
Iran has threatened to close the Strait in the past, mind you. In December, Tehran vowed to close the global oil export chokepoint, saying, “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”
That includes oil from the region’s other major producers — Iraq and Saudi Arabia, primarily.
Last fall, an Iranian cleric warned during Friday prayers in Mashhad, which is considered to be the country’s religious capital, that the country has the power to “instantly” create $400-per-barrel oil if it decides to act in the Persian Gulf.
Shia cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda declared, “If Iran decides, a single drop of this region’s oil will not be exported and in 90 minutes all Persian Gulf countries will be destroyed.”
— No doubt the president is aware of what could happen if he decides to end the Iranian oil waivers.
— No doubt, as well, the Pentagon has long since been aware of Iran’s military capabilities in the region — what it could and could not do — and has drawn up plans to counter them.
Environmentalists and global warming hoaxers don’t like it, but the world’s economies run on oil. And one-fifth of all oil exports travel through the Persian Gulf and transit the Strait of Hormuz. Iran is dreaming if it believes a) that the country can indefinitely block the Strait; and b) that the United States would be the only country whose military would be deployed to reopen it.
Why Iran? And why now?
Because Iran doesn’t play well with its neighbors and has emerged as a threat to the entire region — not just to Israel, but also the Saudis, Jordanians, and Lebanese, all of which are U.S. allies or tentative allies.
The Trump administration may well have decided that now is the time to act to disrupt Iran’s quest to dominate the Middle East to the detriment of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives.
That could mean war and, for a time, higher oil prices. Before he does something that could trigger an armed Iranian response, the president needs to address the American people and explain why it’s necessary.
Especially since Russia and/or China could always enter on the side of the Iranians.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10