By Arab News
By Ali Bluwi
Iran will not be able to close the Strait of Hormuz single-handedly.
Furthermore, Iran will not take such a risk as it lacks sufficient political tools and capability to take a measure with such regional and international consequences. Closing the Strait can cut off a vital artery that does affect not only the region but the whole world with no exception. Therefore, what is behind this Iranian move?
Iran understands well that such a step will reflect negatively on Iran itself. Closing the Strait will only lead to increase in the prices of oil derivatives. It can affect external exports but it is a measure that can only be seen as a function of political bankruptcy. So, one ponders as to why Iran should resort to such options thus putting aside the diplomatic channels.
At the Arab level, there is an understanding of the political mindset of Iran. Some even argue that Iran is tacitly coordinating its deeds with Washington. Therefore, muscle-flexing policy and Iranian grandstanding that it possesses the capability to enrich uranium and perhaps manufacture a nuclear bomb has some regional objectives. Iran is meticulously seeking an American recognition of its regional influence. Simultaneously, Washington desires to see Iran under control. If, for instance, Iran tries to push the limits, Washington will not hesitate in clipping Iran’s wings and taming it as in the past.
Therefore, the moment Iran comes up with sharp statements against Washington, news reports tell us that US and British Embassy incidents were all arranged. In the first case, Iran sought to deny American President Ronald Reagan a second term. In the second example, Iran sought to mobilize the Iranian street before the next presidential elections that war may come!
Iran’s justifications in issuing threats to close the Strait of Hormuz have to do with internal politics. Evidence suggests that the collapse of the Syrian regime means the beginning of the Iranian Spring that will be crowned in a regime change in Tehran. For this reason, Iran is trying to use the oil card and the confrontation with the West. This also entails imposing political agendas on the Gulf countries as Iran has secretly demanded to impose an oil embargo on the West. Against the backdrop, Saudi Arabia sent a clear message that energy security is a vital matter for all counties around the world and it will be outside the political game and if somebody wants to boycott, it is a matter the concerns them alone.
China and India are concerned about the region and oil supply. These two states understand well the stand of the Kingdom toward war on Iran or Iran’s quest to close the Strait of Hormuz. These countries sought to secure alternative sources to the Iranian oil in case Iran follows up on its pledges to close the Strait. Delegations from India and China have been visiting the Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia. Seen this way, the world should appreciate and acknowledge the Kingdom’s steady policy and its pivotal role in regional and international security and stability. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to the Gulf countries was preceded by visits by high-ranking Indian delegations. These delegations have signed many strategic contracts and this is an indication of the desire to reinforce relations between India and Saudi Arabia at all levels. These delegations also discussed a number of regional issues, particularly the consequences of the Arab Spring on economic and political stability. Therefore, tension in the Gulf, Iran’s threat to close the Strait, the situation in Syria, the need to reinforce stability in Egypt, and recent events in Iraq must have been on the agenda of these delegations. Needless to say, the Iranian hands are behind tension and instability.
Additionally, these countries read the American messages to Iran by checking what motivates America in a difficult economic situation it is going through. Perhaps the Libyan case is too obvious not to be seen. Therefore, Iran will offer all sufficient legal and political pretexts for external intervention. The siege imposed on Iran these days is close to declaring war on Iran. This is exactly what caused Iran to exhibit a confused political behavior.
The speech of Syrian President Bashar Assad will not come up with anything new. He may refer to a coalition government with opposition, independents, and the Baath party. He may talk about a presidential and parliamentarian election with international supervision. He may accept extension for the Arab League monitoring mission. Yet, Syrian citizens mistrust this leadership even if the president declares that he will step down. Also, the mainstream opposition will not accept such an arrangement. For this reason, Iran tried to mediate with the Muslim Brotherhood but the latter refused. Iran reached the conclusion that the Syrian regime is doomed and therefore it seeks to exploit it to the most.
The Strait game, therefore, is a political one. It might be accompanied by a minor military adventure against Tehran and some of the nuclear facilitates to undermine the government. It might also do Iran a favor to rebuild itself from within anew. This can be done through a secret deal between Tehran and Washington whereby Iran gives up on the Syrian regime. This message was conveyed to the Americans through the Iraq premier during the latter’s visit to Washington. As a quid pr quo for Iranian role, Tehran would hand in Assad on a sliver platter.
But how Iran’s spring is going to be this time? News reports say that Washington and some Western countries will host a conference of the Iranian opposition from different national backgrounds after months of the eruption of protests in Iran. For this reason, Iran was quick to silence Hashemi Rafsanjani. It also turned against the political process in Iraq. Moreover, Iran supports the presidential candidates in both Tunisia and Egypt and it worked quickly to block the possibility of Rafsanjani running for Iranian presidency.
An American man of Iranian descent, accused of spying for the CIA, went on trial in Tehran on Tuesday. The acceleration of this trail is part of Iran’s strategy to put pressure on the American administration and to gain the sympathy of the Iranian street. This raises the following questions: Is Washington still willing to cooperate with Iran with the same method or is change in the offing? Another important question has to do with the fact the Iran tried to export its Islamic version of revolution including the idea of vilayat-e-faqih. Now, we ponder whether the Al-Jazeera channel will export the spring to Iran, defend the rights of the different nationalities in Iran, and support Arabistan and Baluchistan? Will Doha open offices for them as it did for Taleban?