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Is the Hormuz canal a global oil issue?

05.08.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
The Canal, Strait or Gulf of Hormuz is a water straitened route that links two Gulfs; the Oman and the Arabian (Persian) lying between four countries; Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Iran. This almost 40km long and 4km wide canal which is the only passage of goods and people through water transport out of the Middle East has been a call for concern lately because of issues of who controls what, why, when, how and attacks of Aircrafts, ships and attempts to restrict movement.
Before Iran finally took full control of the Strait, it has been serving as one of the most easy passages for over 1/3 of the world’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and 1/6 of the world’s oil out of Iran and the Middle East to Asia; almost 18 million drums of oil per day according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Who is Responsible for Maintaining Security in the Hormuz Strait?

Since the 1990s, the Fifth Fleet of United States of America’s (USA) Navy, based in Manama capital of the Bahrain Island around the Hormuz Canal responsible for protecting and controlling maritime shipping lanes in this area.

The Most Recent Happenings in the Hormuz Canal

Four oil tankers were attacked in May 2019 in Fujairah at the exit of the Strait, two belonging to Saudi Arabia. Two other oil tankers were exploded on June 13, 2019 in the Gulf of Oman and since then, Hormuz maritime area has been on the news.

In this light, the United Kingdom (UK) issued a statement saying that three Iranian vessels attempted unsuccessfully to halt a British commercial vessel from going through the Strait but Iran denied these claims. Later, the UK confiscated an Iranian oil tanker which they claim was transporting crude oil off Gibraltar coast to Syria thus violating the European Union’s sanctions.

Sanctions on Iran

The USA has meted many sanctions on Iran from exporting and selling oil to some parts of the world and on another occasion has placed travel bands on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran and also to organizations, companies and individuals affiliated to it.

The USA Department of the Treasury also sanctioned Iran’s Petrochemical industry for supporting IRGC financially. The latter also declared sanctions on Javad Zarif, for acting as Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main spokesman, Foreign Minister and for implementing his reckless plans as described by the USA’s Treasury Department Secretary, Steven Mnuchin. In response to the sanctions, Zarif said on twitter on July 31, 2019,

“The USA’s reason for desiccating me is that I am Iran’s “primary spokesman around the world”. Is the truth that painful? This move indicates that Washington sees me as a threat. It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interest out of Iran. Thank you for considering me as such a huge threat to your agenda.”

The Iranian government in response to the USA sanctions attempting to stop Tehran’s (Iran’s Capital) oil exports and strangle her economy has threatened to cause problems for oil tankers in the Strait.

Can Insecurity in the Strait Affect Global Oil Supplies?

All these attacks raised fears about the global oil supply due to the insecurity of shipments through the Strait. It cannot affect oil supplies globally since oil supplies from this zone go mainly to the Asia especially China. The USA presently does not acquire most of her oil supplies from this area. The question now is; Why so much intervention from the USA with so less to profit?

The USA has been protecting the free flow oil supplies in the region since the Carter administration and established the Fifth Fleet Navy Base in 1995; Firstly to secure the 20% source of World oil which passes through the Strait and secondly because America received advice from the Soviet Union during its existence, who also controlled this area. The USA guaranteed direct access to oil whenever her military were to engage into any land war in Eurasia.

Can This Lead to War?

Donald Trump has been in friction with Iran’s leader the whole of July 2019 critically and blatantly blaming them for the frequent attacks within and without the Strait and said they could be “obliterated” if they attack anything American; an attempt by Iran to disrupt movement due to the bans and sanctions.

Trump later wondered aloud on twitter why the area is America’s concern; is the USA paying the bill while China is enjoying safe trade, because the Soviet Union no longer exists thus annulling their previous agreement. It is necessary to ask if the 1980’s reason for USA’s military establishment and existence in this area still hold?

USA’s dignitaries say that she is just fulfilling her duty of peace keeping as World Power as Rosemary Kelanic an American and Notre Dame Professor and searcher on energy and security said, “We’re doing it not just for us; we’re really doing it for the world, and we’re doing it because it impacts us and we’re the only ones really big enough to do it, Other countries have been totally happy to free ride on that.”

Brief History of Clashes in the Hormuz Canal

During the Iraq-Iran 1980’s war, both countries disrupted their oil shipments by attacking oil vessels on daily basis. The USA under President Ronald Reagan stepped in and shot down an Iranian passenger plane killing almost 300 people and called it an accident.

The al-Qaeda terrorist group formed by Bin Laden attacked a Japanese oil tanker in this same area in 2010 after which Iran was accused by the USA. The EU two years later sanctioned Iran from selling oil in some parts of the world. Following the latters’ decision, Iran threatened to interfere with any vessels transporting oil through this canal that same year, clear reasons for the recent attacks.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photos credit : google image/Hormuz Canal

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