Hormuz, Hot Zone ..


In the heat of the latest escalation of tension between Iran and the United States, during military maneuvers first in the Strait of Hormuz in early January, many are already talking about the new war "imminent" in the Middle East. This is the latest in a string of mutual accusations, tending always to impute to another the greatest responsibility in the state of permanent tension and destabilization in the region who live mired for years.



The Islamic Republic said it will act forcefully against any provocation of the U.S. Navy, whose ships pass freely through the waters of the Persian Gulf. The threat includes the closure of the strait in question, a very important maritime conduit for global oil traffic, less extensive in its segment between the coasts of Iran and Oman, does not exceed 40 km and is the gateway to the main deposits on the planet. The apparent reason that caused the angry reaction from Tehran is "hostile presence" of U.S. vessels while the maneuvers were carried out and the announcement of new economic sanctions by Western countries, among which the European decision cancel its imports of Iranian crude.



This measure, which would begin to be applied within a few months at the earliest, would be a severe blow to Iran's economy, dependent on hydrocarbons, and aggravate the necessary link with preferred customers such as China. But in fact, the controversy surrounding the above maneuvers, reflecting the perceptions of the Iranian leadership that is emerging as a military campaign even has a schedule and plan of action defined. Therefore, in some ways, Tehran is implying that it is prepared for war and unwilling to see how sanctions, embargoes and diplomatic pressure gradually weaken operational capacity as a regional power. That the injunctions of their military leaders expressed at the bottom, a force option, or, rather, is a sign of weakness, as Washington insists diplomacy is something that remains to be seen. Yes it is clear that, in view of the turbulent situation in which the area is immersed, and the global economic crisis, with popular uprisings in Syria and Yemen, the resurgence of sectarian violence in Iraq, uncertainties in the transition Egyptian The dark picture of the future Afghan and Pakistani state organ dysfunction, a military operation in Iran would produce, in addition to the so seldom taken into account indentation of life, a global upheaval.



The controversy surrounding the above maneuvers, reflecting the perceptions of the Iranian leadership that is emerging as a military campaign even has a schedule and plan of action defined



Iranian irritation to the comings and goings of the warships in the Gulf United States is not, of course, novel, but the guts of your current position and the strength of the message: we are able to close the Strait of Hormuz and avoid traffic 40% of daily oil shipments in the world. It had previously threatened to do just that, though, even during the worst years of the war with Iraq (1980-1988) had been fulfilled. The maneuvers, named Velayet 90, were designed to "strengthen the security of Persian Gulf" and show that, within a reasonable period of time, the Iranian army can block traffic and, incidentally, closely monitor the U.S. fleet . The fact that they have announced new naval exercises later this month certify the effort by Tehran to emphasize two priorities: the continuity of its nuclear program, peaceful, according to his statements, to war say his detractors, and in particular the negative economic new punitive measures.



Iranian crude devours China



In fact, Iranian leaders have linked the possible closure of the Straits to further prohibitions on the export of Iranian oil. The sanctions thus far have significantly harmed the industrial production and finance Iranians: the lack of technology and spare parts needed to maintain and modernize the machinery of hydrocarbons, as well as restrictions on capital movements in Iran have steady devaluation led Toman, national currency, the price crunch and declining living standards. As we have said, the ban on oil exports by the European Union (second importer), together with an impossible collusion between Japan and South Korea (fourth and fifth importers respectively), would exacerbate the plight of the Islamic Republic of time to obtain liquidity. In addition, the increasingly narrow fence exercised by the United States, whose president recently approved more constraints against the Central Bank of Iran and pressure on a reluctant yet China-Iran's first commercial customer, with a fifth of the approximately 2.5 million barrels a day, to join the boycott cheese. Others, like India, its third biggest customer, face increasingly difficult to make payment of their imports due to the penalties imposed on banks to conduct transactions with the Central Iran. Indian leaders have confirmed their desire to continue to import Iranian crude, but just in case, look for alternative suppliers.



One drawback is that Tehran added to his other great international champion along with China, Russia, is the second largest producer of oil and little can help in this regard. Yes when war cripple any project in the UN and could neutralize the pressures exerted on third countries to join an aggressive plan towards Iran, but experience has shown that, when the West intends to carry out an action war, the Russians and the Chinese recently have been unable or unwilling to do to prevent it. Today, the reasons that have delayed the start of hostilities against the Islamic Republic do not have much to do with the international and financial hardship with the European Union and the United States and the dangerous geo-strategic implications of a new war in the Middle Middle, this time against a formidable enemy, endowed with many more resources than the Iraq of Saddam Hussein and Afghanistan under the Taliban. But who knows if the economic complexion impairments will not end up at the end, precisely because of that, one more incentive to launch a war that supposedly revive the Western economy (or at least revive the arms industry and justify higher capital flows from rich Gulf Arab monarchies). What is clear is that Washington is taking the steps needed to minimize the impact on the geostrategic level military escalation against Tehran. And this has clearly perceived, hence his nervousness.



Regarding the latter, no displays of clairvoyance needed to check, along with Iranian officials that something was "fired" because, largely, are occurring, regional movements that we all knew had to precede a project of this type. Firstly, the Iranians knew that any attack on its national sovereignty was to have occupied Iraq occur while tens of thousands of American soldiers. These would become a sort of hostage to the many partners, including Government, the Iranians in ancient Mesopotamia and compose a rearguard very difficult to manage. With the withdrawal, completed in 2011, the Washington-military personnel but the maintenance of its operational capacity in the country and the dedication of his "bunker" intelligence at the headquarters of the embassy in Baghdad, this problem has been overcome. The Iranians also knew that the chronic instability in Afghanistan, where international troops suffer daily casualties in a war of attrition that can never win, prevents sealingly close the eastern border of Iran. Now, the recognition that you can negotiate with the Taliban, after years of them as "terrorists," and Washington's approval to open an office in Qatar movement, confirm that the desire to smooth the Afghan spiral, even provisionally, on the eve of the departure of U.S. occupation troops before the end of the year.



The script prewar



At the same time, to justify a possible participation of Arab countries in the company-or at least neutrality-has been launched, once again, a round of contacts between the Palestinian National Authority and Israel, in Jordan. The aim is to promote the so-called peace negotiations, even though the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the leading advocates of a military punishment against Iran, even has revised its policy and territorial expansion of settlements in occupied Palestine. Also, Washington is that things do not exceed acceptable voltage level in Pakistan, which is in serious danger of becoming a failed state in its own right, and makes every effort to reduce anti-American drift in those Arab countries where popular revolts dictatorial presidents have been overthrown, as in Egypt, at the same time coordinates with the Allied policy of containment, based on democratic timid feints openings and to prevent the spread revolutionary. Consequently, the script is well-drawn pre-war: apparent normality in the Iranian continental environment, an economy choked with political leadership increasingly nervous, and the strength of the U.S. military devices in the area.



From their bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, plus the French troops in the UAE and Djibouti, the West can neutralize the operation of the Iranian Gulf waters. All this is compounded by enmity of the Arab monarchies of the Islamic Republic, which go with less and less subtle when asking or demanding even an act of war. For some, like the king of Bahrain or the Kuwaiti emir, the Iranians are behind the opposition political movements and external conspiracies alleged. Over a Gulf Arab state has taken action against Iranian diplomats and announced the dismantling of alleged espionage networks, to the extent that the local vocabulary has now become usual reference to "interference from a neighboring country" always something unusual happens, if the recent demonstrations in the Shiite-majority provinces in Saudi Arabia. For this and the rest Tehran's nuclear program and its regional expansion, driven, paradoxically, by the U.S. occupation of Iraq, are a major problem, among other things, the ideological influence to exercise the Islamic Republic Shiite populations in the Arabian Peninsula.



Who knows if the economic complexion impairments will not end up at the end one more incentive to launch a war that supposedly revive the Western economy (or at least revive the arms industry and justify greater capital flows from rich Arab monarchies Gulf)



Recent episodes, such as the official Saudi reaction to the dark complex of Iranian agents to assassinate his ambassador to the United States or the increase in imports of high technology weaponry and war by the oil monarchies, some 130,000 million dollars in the last years suggest to Tehran that the Saudis and company are also willing to collaborate, not only with money or increasing its oil production, in the hypothetical campaign. Therefore, the naval maneuvers message is also directed to them, as well as apocalyptic ads on sidereal escalating oil prices (up to $ 250 in case of conflict). Indeed, Tehran needs to pay for their expensive barrels financial instability but knows that the Arab neighbors, primarily Saudi Arabia, can make counterbalance to achieve exactly the opposite. No wonder then that since parts of the Arabian Peninsula has accused Tehran of promoting all this controversy surrounding maneuvers, incidentally, make the oil cost more.



Iran is making a show, from all this evidence, an unusual tension used diplomacy to a policy of continuous irradiation but cautious and underground. The occupation of the British embassy in November 2011 or the announcement of an oil extraction project Yaraf area, bordering Kuwait territory disputed by both countries, illustrated, along with military maneuvers and inflammatory statements by its leaders, its purpose of, at least design their own deadlines and force Washington to overturn the times of their war plans, if any. Try and have some trick, because the good cards start to seem rare: in Syria, the Western determination to tighten without choking and wait for the decomposition of regime Bashar al-Asad, or as little structural weakening of its military and regional influence is desperate Iranians, major allies of Damascus, who see their way out of the Mediterranean is crumbling without Syria's leaders are able to offer more repression and violence to the demands of the population.



In Lebanon, Hezbollah is mired in factional disputes with its partners in Government and the serious deterioration of its public image at home and throughout the Arab world as a result of its unconditional support to the Syrian leadership. In Palestine, Hamas, the other vertex of the Syrian-Iranian regional alliance, maintains an attitude of cautious distance from the Syrian crisis and tries to make their own choices. Although the Supreme Leader himself, Ayatollah Ali Jameni, welcomed with enthusiasm the Arab riots in early 2011, the course of the same and the evidence that liberalizing Iranian discourse has nothing to do with its policy of closure and domestic oppression have led many Arab Muslims to suspect that Tehran denies, as the United States, top supporter of dictatorships and repressive regimes in the region, a truly democratic model in the Middle East.



As if that were not enough, the huge economic and geostrategic challenges of the Islamic Republic join the internal rifts, with a president, Ahmad EddínNeyad, faced with the Supreme Leader and a veiled struggle between supporters of each other to seize control of power and give the outlines of a foreign policy increasingly aggressive and less calculated. Everything is to divert, by the way, the attention of opposing currents in the interior, but at the cost of providing more ammunition for those who advocate punitive military action and begin to charge, within the United States, President Barack Obama's pusillanimous for not attacking now.



* Ignacio Gomez-Gutierrez de Teran Benita, a professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Autonomous University of Madrid.


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