Understanding the Threats from Iran

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Col. Udi Evental - Following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement and to restore sanctions on Iran, senior Iranian officials have been making an unusual series of distinct threats, accompanied by a media campaign on state-run channels. The exaggerated Iranian response to U.S. moves is also intended for domestic consumption, part of efforts by the regime to place responsibility for the country's domestic situation upon "a foreign conspiracy" in order to unite the people around the flag, while deflecting criticism of the regime. After the U.S. announced that it would ask Iran's oil consumers to completely halt purchases of Iranian crude oil, starting in November, Tehran threatened to stop the traffic of oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz. However, Tehran would be the party most seriously damaged by such a move since it is almost completely dependent upon the Strait of Hormuz for exporting its oil. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have alternative pipelines and ports on the Red Sea (Yanbu) and in Fujairah, which bypass the Strait, through which they can continue to export large quantities of oil, even when traffic in Hormuz is interrupted. The case of the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb is different. There, the Houthis can act on Iran's behalf, as demonstrated by their attack on Saudi oil tankers in July. Iran also has the capability of instigating various proxies to act (with an emphasis on Shiite militias), with a high level of denial, in various areas of the Middle East where U.S. military forces are present. The probability of Iran promoting proxy Shiite militia attacks against vessels in the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb or U.S. forces and interests in the region is expected to increase as American pressures intensify.

2018-11-02 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive