Wednesday, July 24, 2019 | ePaper

OPINION

Turmoil in Gulf

Aimed At Containing China Energy Needs

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Saleem Samad :
I often scoffed off conspiracy theories, but at times I am also tilted to believe one or more theories, which provides me an opportunity to traverse into broader perspective.
The recent theory that United States is creating tension in the Persian Gulf to contain China's access to energy resources of the region.
Since the economic growth in the 90s, China has become dependent on imported oil from other countries and bulk comes from the Arabian Peninsula.
After US year unilaterally withdrew from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear accord last year, the Trump administration embarked on a "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran that was intended to force Iran to abandon many aspects of its expansive foreign policy in the Middle East, which angered Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and of course Israel.
United States President Donald Trump is squeaking to hold parleys with Iran. He explained that he does not want war but warned Iran it would face "obliteration" if conflict broke out.
Speaking to an American TV network NBC, he said the US was open to talks but would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons after Trump pushed the region toward fresh conflict.
Tensions had been simmering for weeks, while oil price hiked after two tankers were disabled in the Gulf of Oman, what the United States has insisted were acts of sabotage by Iran.
Historically Gulf tensions create instability in oil markets.
Surprisingly the blame-game over Iran has been coolly received by many in the international community, including allies of the United States who say they need to see "clearer evidence" of a link to Tehran.
The tension obviously escalated, when Iran shot down a US naval surveillance drone that US Central Command claimed was "operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz." Well, Iran said it was in inside Iranian airspace over the southern province of Hormozgan.
Trump wanted to retaliate, but fortunately cancelled his last-minute decision to call-off strikes in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone few days ago, saying he had been told 150 Iranians would be killed.
Earlier, the Trump Administration imposed sanctions on Iran that badly damaged the country's economy.
Trump has threatened further economic sanctions which would likely choke Iran's economy.
Iran has enough weapons to disrupt oil shipments from passing through the narrow Strait of Hormuz in Gulf of Oman.
Iran responded to this increased pressure by threatening to back out of its commitments to the nuclear deal and prevent oil tankers from passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
Even though the US maintains overwhelming military presence in the region, it's an illusion to believe that restoring the uninterrupted flow of oil would be quick or easy in the face of a determined Iranian campaign to interdict shipping and to damage critical energy infrastructure in the Gulf.
If US would go to war against Iran, it will be able to muster the diplomatic and perhaps military support of four countries: the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
On the other front Russia, China and even Europe might not side with Iran, but would definitely oppose the attack on Islamic Iran.
The Trump Administration has no realistic goals that would be attained by the use of military force against Iran.
Iran is too large and strong to be toppled, and there is no strong, united opposition capable of fomenting the kind of unrest that could overthrow the regime in the wake of US military strikes.
Presumably, if the regime collapses, it would likely be followed either by a period of instability or a regime that would be more militantly anti-American.

(Saleem Samad, is a journalist, an Ashoka Fellow (USA), recipient of Hellman-Hammett Award and also Bangladesh correspondent of Paris-based international media rights organization, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Twitter @saleemsamad; Email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com)

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