The Iran Conundrum
The EU oil embargo recently slapped on Iran and the threats voiced by the US and other Western countries to come up with further sanctions against the country led watchers to conclude that an armed conflict between Iran and the West finally became imminent.
The first potential scenario in the context is that the current standoff would eventually escalate into a war. The US forces in the Gulf area currently number 40,000, plus 90,000 are deployed in Afghanistan, just east of Iran, and several thousands of support troops are deployed in various Asian countries.
The Strait of Hormuz which is the maritime chokepoint of the Persian Gulf is regarded as the epicenter of the coming new war. It serves as the avenue for oil supplies from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates and is therefore being closely monitored by all likely parties to the conflict. According to the US Department of Energy, the 2011 oil transit via the Strait of Hormuz totaled 17 billion barrels, or roughly 20% of the world’s total. Oil prices are projected to increase by 50% if anything disquieting happens in the Strait of Hormuz.
An alternative scenario also deserves attention. The EU sanctions would surely hurt many of the European economies – notably, Greece, Italy, and Spain – by a ricochet. In fact, Spanish diplomacy chief bluntly described the sanctions decision as a sacrifice.
The opposition mounted to the plans underlying the military scenario by China, Russia, and India seems to hold the promise of an alliance of countries seeking to tame the US hegemony and raging unilateralism. Stratfor analysts have a point saying that time is not on the US side, considering that the BRICs countries have some opportunities to influence the situation in the potential conflict zone by launching joint anti-terrorism and anti-piracy maneuvers in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf etc.
In essence, a war against Iran – up to date a secret war – is underway. The problem the parties involved are trying to resolve is to find a way of prevailing without entering the “hot” phase of the conflict.
[Full article by Leonid Savin]