by Poorang Novak
The Iranian Regime has threatened to close the vital Hormuz Strait shipping channel on numerous occasions since 1979 – it's their go-to threat whenever a crisis occurs, which is often.
However, not once in the past 40 years have the Regime actually been so stupid as to close the strait, even during the Iran-Iraq war, when Iran vowed to close the strait after two of its warships were attacked by the US Navy.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) is threatening to close the strait in an attempt to blockade global oil sales in the wake of new US sanctions against Iran, stating that the waterway is “either for everyone or no one”, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also hinted that a blockade might be coming.
However, these fighting words were almost immediately played down by Iran’s head of the parliamentary national security and foreign policy committee, following US promises to protect oil tankers and other cargo ships in the region.
Iran has a habit of making loud threats regarding the strait that never comes to pass, probably because they recognise the inherent dangers to themselves in following through on the threats. They may be capable of closing the strait, but they couldn’t stand the consequences.
Salman Aldosary, the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, wrote: “Tehran knows this well and cannot afford the risk of implementing its threats--not only because closing off the strait, through which 30 per cent of the world’s oil supply passes, but also because such action represents suicide for Iran.”
This action would amount to a declaration of war against oil-exporting countries (i.e. Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq who move about 17 million barrels of oil a day through the strait) and the major importers (i.e. China, Europe, Japan, India, South Korea and Singapore who would see oil prices rise to $400 a barrel).
If Iran were able to close the strait, they would have done so in 1979, but they prefer to make verbal threats to relieve the pressure it faces from the international sanctions, such as those that are due to be introduced after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Aldosary wrote: “Gulf states rest assured that Iran cannot close down the strait, because it is simply a declaration of war against the world, and the Iranian regime is unable to do so and is unlikely to push for giving world countries an opportunity to unite against it.”