Elijah J. Magnier:
Elijah J. Magnier, Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years' experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria.
When US president Donald Trump says he doesn’t want war with Iran, he expresses a position similar to that of Iranian Leader of the Revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei, who has announced that Iran doesn’t “want to go to war nor to talk” with the US.
That brings the bras-de fer between the US and Iran back to square one. The US had been the first to escalate, making much of the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the region and sending a squad of four B-52s as an implicit threat to Iran. There followed a sabotage attack against Saudi, Emirati and Norwegian giant oil vessel carriers east of al-Fujairah harbour and the unprecedent Yemeni drone attack against Aramco Saudi 1,200 kilometre pipeline at Afif and al-Dawadmi that carries crude oil from the east to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu’ in the west. Since the two attacks, nothing has changed with the exception of Trump’s giving his phone number to the Swiss and receiving the Swiss President Ueli Maurer to pass on a message to Iran. Trump seems to be feigning ignorance of Iran’s most basic difference with the USA: Iran doesn’t want to negotiate; its phone is out of order and can only be fixed when Trump returns to the JCPOA nuclear deal.
The al-Fujairah Emirati harbour and the 1,200-kilometre Saudi pipeline can transport around 7 million barrels of oil per day without the need to go through the Strait of Hormuz that Iran says it has the ability to transform into a shipwreck in case of war. Nevertheless, Iran doesn’t want a war, nor does it want to close the Straits of Hormuz, a passage that is subject to international navigation law established by the UN. Any violation of this law will bring the condemnation of the world community, including Iran’s allies.
Tehran would only close the Straits of Hormuz if war is waged on Iran. One should carefully read the Iranian statement in this regard: “If we are prevented from using the Strait of Hormuz, we shall shut it down”, declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) leaders, in charge of the security of the Strait.
This is the point: no one is preventing Iran from using the Strait of Hormuz. The US sanctions apply to any country/company buying Iranian oil and trading with Iran. The US never said it would prevent Iran from delivering its oil on the high seas. Iran is stocking tens of millions of crude oil barrels in China and the Chinese oil tanker PACIFIC BRAVO in recent days loaded millions of barrels of Iranian oil, disregarding the US embargo and blowing up Trump’s “Zero oil exports” plan. The IRGC threat does not apply to current US actions.
Iran is not interested in challenging the US and, so far, is uninterested in showing its military capability. The al-Fujairah sabotage and the drone attack against Aramco were implicit messages. No one claimed responsibility for the al-Fujairah attacks while Yemeni-Houthi, Iran’s allies, took credit for the attack on Aramco. These messages expressed Tehran’s position in relation to the US threat. And the messages are clear: any confrontation will be costly. Iran’s allies are hitting US allies and oil is the target.
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