By Hasan Selim Ozertem
Parallel to soaring international pressure, Iran has been making interesting statements. Actually, those statements are generally given not by officials in the decision making process but by people who lack legal power and a political identity and their statements immediately spread to English broadcasting agencies. On the other hand, Iran remains silent without any response for a while, and then Tehran makes comments such as “we do not support those arguments and those only bind who makes them.”
Interestingly, Turkey has recently been included into those statements as well. First, Karayýlan’s arrest and then statements regarding hitting Turkey, specifically Malatya, have become popular issues in the recent months. Nowadays, another scene is being carried out in the Strait of Hormuz. One of the members of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Parviz Sorouri first claimed that the army is ready to conduct some military exercises in Strait of Hormuz and then said that “if the region is not safe for Iran, it will not be safe for anyone else.”
It is a notably interesting statement. The strait through which nearly one-sixth of the world’s oil demand is being transported, in other words 15.5 million barrels of oil a day, has critical importance for both world politics and the economy. Considering this, such a message is not only given toward the U.S., but also Saudi Arabia, Asian developing economies as well as Gulf countries. On the other hand, it is also interesting that the timing of this message coincides with the OPEC Summit.
Following those statements, as the tension in the global market has accelerated and world oil prices have begun to rise, one of Iran’s Foreign Affairs Ministry officials has made another statement: “The Hormuz Strait still open to vessel passage, such [contrary] claims are occasionally made but the people saying them do not have any role or official responsibility.” However, in the Malatya case, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stated that “Iran’s official position in international relations and foreign policy issues is only declared by the Ayatollah, President and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Apart from those, other statements are only accepted as personal opinions. Therefore, unconscious claims and opinions are irrelevant in Iran’s foreign affairs. In this regard, we warned the people who make irresponsible and unconscious statements.”
Recently, Iran’s statements considerably set the political agenda and caused the escalation of tension in Iranian-Turkish relations to soar, as well as in international politics. Iran’s claims were immediately spread all over the world through English broadcasting agencies. Then Iran denied those arguments as if nothing happened. Although Iran is known for its skills in diplomacy, its recent claims which increase tension bring some questions to the mind. First of all, is Iran trying to generate asymmetric threads with those statements? Then, do some uncontrolled groups cause Iran’s diplomacy to stagger? Or, are those overlapping claims really just a coincidence and a demonstration of pluralist democracy and a free atmosphere in Iran as the officials explained?
Actually, it is unknown whether the tension in the Middle East which increased with the Arab Spring will evolve into more tension reflected by the energy market due to Iran in the coming days. However, it is certain that Iran, with its recent policies, is trying to send a message to many actors. In this regard, Iran does not hesitate in using its advantages of energy and geography.
Hasan Selim Ozertem
USAK Center for Energy Security Studies