Iran’s Hormuz threats ‘just bluster’

If Iran closes strait, it will only give America and European powers reason to come together

Dubai: As sanctions begin to bite, and with the threat of even harsher ones looming on the horizon, Iran has threatened to take military action in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz to block other countries’ oil exports, in retaliation for US sanctions on Tehran. General Ali Reza Tangsiri, the head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying that Iran has “full control” of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it. Closing the strait would be the most direct way of blocking shipping.

Analysts in the region believe the commander’s comments amount to little more than bluster. Speaking to Gulf News, the former undersecretary of the Bahraini foreign ministry, Hamad Al Amer, said if Iran carries out its threat, it will only give America and EU a reason to come together. “These are international waters. The Iranians are not stupid; they will not carry out this threat. The comments from the commander are just for public consumption. [However], if they do, the US will have a good reason to go after Iran, in alliance with regional and international powers.”

General Tangsiri also had also said all carriers and military and non-military ships will be controlled and there will be “full Iranian supervision over the Gulf”. Abdullah Al Madani, a Bahrain-based political analyst and academic, told Gulf News the region is used to this sort of propaganda from Iran. “It is trying to frighten Gulf states. Iran simply does not have the power to face the US and other Western powers in the Gulf. It’s navy and air force are both weak. Plus, [US President] Trump wants to reduce Iranian power to zero.”

In an email interview with Gulf News, Farzin Nadimi a specialist on Iran’s military and security affairs at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said if the US can bring Iran’s oil export to almost a standstill, Tehran will increase tensions in the Gulf to new levels. “But still, that won’t mean that IRGC will automatically close the strait. Any tensions will begin with aggressive manoeuvres and, at that stage, end with unattributable actions, such as dropping mine-like objects on the shipping channels, followed by actual mines.


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