The suspenseful dispute between Iran and the West thickens with the Iranian government’s new announcements of plans for more military exercises in the Strait of Hormuz as part of its aggressive political and militaristic posturing in response to the equally aggressive U.S.-led international sanctions and militaristic posturing. The Strait of Hormuz is regarded as one of the most important trade areas in the world due to its lording position over 20 percent of the world’s transported oil.
Iran has already carried out military drills and war games elsewhere in neighboring waters (such as the Sea of Oman) and may now be looking towards the Strait of Hormuz.
Analysts say it is incredibly unlikely that Iran will actually block the Strait of Hormuz in fear of powerful retaliation.
Iran has repeatedly threatened the international community that it will block the Strait of Hormuz if the sanctions don’t let up and that talks take place.
However the U.S.-led coalition of countries insists that Iran first stop its uranium enrichment program before it proceeds to the negotiating table.
Moreover, countries including Britain, France and others have shot back their own rhetoric saying they will deploy their own military forces should an outgunned Iranian navy carry out a blockade.
As of now, the U.S. Fifth Fleet of lone supercarrier John C Stennis, missile cruisers, destroyers and submarines are on stand-by near the Strait of Hormuz with the intention of ensuring the strait stays open.
For weeks now, whatever good remained in the unfriendly relations between the U.S. and Iran disappeared after the naked show of each side’s military over Iran’s fledgling nuclear program which the West says is a front to make nuclear weapons.
The Iranian government has been denying such allegations since the start of this dispute.
According to unnamed sources, Western authorities have said Iran’s uranium enrichment program has already surpassed the ~3.5% level of enrichment for the powering of a nuclear energy plant and is well on its way to refining uranium over 20%.
More than four rounds of U.S.-led sanctions, which some countries including China, Russia and Brazil opposed, designed to force Iran in halting its nuclear program have battered away at Iran to little avail.
But now the recent round of sanctions beginning in January 2012 have started to make a serious dent.
The sanctions are largely targeting Iran’s oil exports, which make up more than 50% of Iran’s revenue. These economical sanctions are also unfortunately forcing ordinary Iranians into making financial sacrifices.
Market prices for Iranians have seen to a steep increase and the currency of the nation (the rial) rapidly fell which has struck a panic among the Iranian populace.
The local banks have seen to a remarkable turnout of queuing Iranians wanting to turn their rials into euros, dollars and whatever else.
Of course, the U.S. government, as compensation for its participating allies, will offer waivers and slow down the sanctions over the next few months so the markets do not go through shock.
Unsurprisingly, the Sunni-majority occupied Saudi Arabia, which happens to be the 2nd arch nemesis (next to Iraq) of Shi’ite majority occupied Iran and the world’s biggest exporter of oil, offered any country its exports if their oil supply goes down as a result of cutting down on Iranian oil imports.
European Union officials may also join in the fray with their own round of sanctions on Iran starting next month in February.
These sanctions and the devastating effects they could further produce have also been introduced during a sensitive time for Iran: election year.
Ever since the Green Revolution failed to make its stand against the thousands of armed military and policemen after tens of thousands hit the streets crying foul and fraud regarding the 2009 re-election of current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, political stability and the balance of power in Iran have been matters of much speculation to outsiders.
Now, legislative elections will be held this year on the 2nd of March.
Currently, there are no signs that the political climate of repression will take a turn as Green Revolution candidates or others outside of the strict and controlled political camps are essentially forbidden to participate as candidates.
(Cover Photo: Reuters)