Peace not War

War Gaming Iran

You may by now have heard the story that Iran has “threatened”, or rather “warned”, that they will close the Strait of Hormuz should an embargo against trade in Iranian oil come into force.

What you may not have heard is why Iran issued such a warning.

Regardless of the way it is portrayed, it didn’t come out of the blue.

I want to take you back to 13th December 2011. In an article entitled “Oil: Iran’s Hormuz Strait Threats Could Wreak Global Economic Havoc”, by Agustino Fontevecchia, reported Iranian MP Parviz Sorouri of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee saying this, “Currently, the Middle East region supplies 70 percent of the world’s energy needs, (most of) which are transported through the Strait of Hormuz. We will hold an exercise to close the Strait of Hormuz in the near future. If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure.”

Earlier in the article was written, “Crude oil prices surged on Tuesday on reports that Iran was set to begin war games in the Strait of Hormuz to practice closing down the key chokepoint which concentrates 30% of global seaborne oil shipments.”

War games ? Why on Earth would Iran want to conduct strategic manoeuvres ? Clearly, Iran was responding to something. What could that have been ?

Helpfully, the Daily Mail collated a few of the provocations, in an article entitled “‘If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure’: Iran threatens to shut Strait of Hormuz with military exercise” by the Daily Mail Reporter on 14th December 2011 :-

“…Yesterday former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney said President Obama should have ordered an airstrike over Iran after their refusal to hand back the unmanned spyplane [drone] that crashed last week…Mr Cheney told CNN: ‘The right response would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it…”

“…General Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, said on state television that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the U.S. drone was a ‘hostile act’ and warned of a ‘bigger’ response. Officials in Iran even believe they can ‘mass produce’ the captured bat-winged stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel and build a ‘superior’ version following its crash on December 4…”

“…It also emerged today that Iran has lodged a complaint with Interpol following calls made during U.S. congressional hearings to assassinate members of Tehran’s security agency. Former U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Jack Keane and former CIA operative Reuel Marc Gerecht, now a senior fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the subcommittee hearing on ‘Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil,’ that they were in favour of carrying out covert operations against members of Qods, a special unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In his speech, Keane suggested sanctions against Tehran were not sufficient and suggested cyberattacks, covert actions and assassination would be more effective…”

“…Iran’s national prosecutor general, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told Iranian television that a case had been opened and that the judiciary was ‘providing more documents to the Interpol, so that the two Americans, who have threatened the Iranian commander with assassination, would be prosecuted.’…”

“…The [U. S. congressional] hearing which took place on October 26, was held in response to an alleged plot by Qods to assassinate of the Saudi ambassador in Washington and carry out a string of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil…”

“…Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi claims the remarks were part of a ‘devilish triangle of terrorism, human rights violation and use of WMDs’ by the U.S..’…”

“…The Iranians have also highlighted a letter to President Obama from House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King and two subcommittee chairs urging ‘significant covert action against the Iranian regime, including against facilities and personnel responsible for killing our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.’…”

Now, cast your mind back a little further to the completely unbelieveable plot that sparked the U. S. congressional hearings that got the Iranians so worked up :-

As Wikipedia records, “The allegations of an Iranian plot met with a stream of disbelief from a number of foreign officials and analysts. Senior U.S. officials struggled to explain why the Quds Force would attempt such a delicate plot in such an unskilled style. No evidence was presented implicating Iran’s most senior leaders.”

So now let’s return to the question of why Iran should make a clear statement that they can close the Straits of Hormuz. As Press TV spells out, “On Saturday, December 24, [2011] Iran’s Navy launched a massive 10-day Velayat 90 naval exercise, covering an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden…“The [Iranian] Navy’s military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman indicate the power and dominance of Iran’s Navy in regional waters,” member of the Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Zohreh Elahian said Monday. The lawmaker stated that military drills also aim to increase Iran’s deterrence power and prove its regional dominance. “The exercises send an important message to the whole world, especially the colonialist powers…and also show the power of [Iran’s] armed forces, particularly [the country’s] Navy,” she noted.”

Message received and understood.

However, the message is being used by certain people to imply that Iran is the belligerent, provocative party.

Consider the treatment of this interview with Iran’s navy chief Habibollah Sayyari :-
“‘Closing Strait of Hormuz easy for Iran’ : Wed Dec 28, 2011 : Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari has reiterated that the country’s naval forces can readily block the strategic Strait of Hormuz if need be, Press TV reports…”

Like the Western mainstream media, Press TV omits to talk about the historical rationale behind Iran’s statements. Why should Press TV broadcast something that could be misinterpreted ? Could it be partly related to a deal brokered between the UK press regulator Ofcom and Press TV ?

And now the story has been whipped up out of all proportion, consider the stance taken by the mainstream media, all peddling fear of Iran. For example, Google this Financial Times article, “Military warns gas imports at risk”, published 16th January 2012 :-

“…Since December, Iran has repeatedly threatened it would block the critical shipping lane at the mouth of the Gulf if its oil exports were blocked. One-fifth of the world’s oil and one-third of its LNG passes through the strait. Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy and security adviser to Gordon Brown when the latter was prime minister, told the Financial Times that, if the strait were blockaded, the sharp fall in the UK’s gas supplies would be the country’s single most critical issue. “I have no doubt at all that this would be the biggest problem for us,” Lord West told the Financial Times, adding that the UK would also have to weather the economic fall-out from higher global oil and gas energy prices if shipping through the strait was interrupted. The risk has risen as refiners have stopped buying Iranian oil ahead of the expected decision to enforce sanctions in response to Tehran’s attempts to develop a nuclear arms programme…”

Anyway, Saudi Arabia has tried to step in to defuse the scare :-

“Saudi Arabia doubts Iran oil blockade claim : By Ramin Mostafavi : TEHRAN : Mon Jan 16, 2012 : Saudi Arabia on Monday expressed doubts over Iran’s claim it could block the main oil shipping route out of the Gulf and made clear it was ready to pump more oil after sanctions threatened to cut Iranian sales of crude…”

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