The U.S. State Department announced last year that it would be expecting all countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil down to zero. Some of the biggest importers of Iranian oil were granted waivers which expired at the beginning of the month. The State Department confirmed last month that it would not be renewing any waivers.
The economic impact of this has been tremendous and there have been numerous reports that the Lebanese Hezbollah that once received huge amounts of funding from Iran is also under great economic pressure because their help from Iran has been severely cut. Fighters are being put on reserves to lower the wages bill and benefits are being cancelled.
The Trump administration has been very clear on its goal when it comes to the economic sanctions, particular on Iran’s oil sector. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that cutting the regime off from its biggest source of income will prevent the regime from carrying out its destabilising activities to the same extent. He said: “The goal remains simple: to deprive the outlaw regime of the funds it has used to destabilize the Middle East for decades.”
President Trump himself has said that he wants the regime to “abandon its nuclear ambitions, change its destructive behavior, respect the rights of its people, and return in good faith to the negotiating table”.
The past few weeks have been marked by increasing tensions between Iran and the United States. The U.S. had deployed a number of vessels to the Gulf after facing credible threats from Iran. The Trump administration warned Iran that it was prepared to act should Iran attack. President Trump has also warned Iran that military conflict would destroy Iran.
Iran, on the other hand, with its bravado, said that the United States was not prepared for military conflict and that the U.S. has been engaging in psychological warfare. However, the Iranian regime quickly realised that military conflict was not in its best interests – not just because it has no chance when faced with the United States, its regional allies, and the complete lack of funds that it has, but primarily because war is not what the people of Iran want.
The people of Iran are suffering enough as it is and if the regime plunges the country into war it will do nothing but create even more resistance from the people towards the regime. The people are certainly going to be the force behind the regime’s imminent collapse and the regime knows that it needs to keep a lid on the dissent that threatens to boil over at any time.