I wholeheartedly wish and pray for my readers and all people of goodwill, a happy, purposeful, peaceful and prosperous New Year.
But I don’t think it is going to happen.
Over the last six years the UN Security Council has passed four resolutions calling for economic sanctions against Iran, primarily relating to trade in nuclear technology. Various individual countries including the US and Australia have imposed wider sanctions. The US sanctions amount to an almost complete ban on any financial interaction with Iran.
These sanctions are motivated by disgust with a violent and oppressive regime, by growing concern over Iran’s refusal to wind back its nuclear programme, by Iran’s support for terrorist groups, and its threats against other nations.
Iran’s economy depends almost entirely on oil. EU foreign ministers, along with the US, Canada, Japan and Australia and other nations, have begun to wonder whether the only way to to encourage regime change without military intervention, or at least, to force Iran to shut down its nuclear programme, is to impose even tighter sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.
This would bring Iran’s economy to a grinding halt. Iran has said it will regard such sanctions as an act of war. It has promised that if oil sanctions are tightened, it will close the Straits of Hormuz. It could easily do so. The Straits are only about thirty miles wide.
Closing the Straits of Hormuz will not only stop the movement of Iran’s oil, but also most of Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s oil, and that of some smaller states like the UAE and Kuwait. About 35% of the world’s oil travels through the Straits of Hormuz on its way to Europe, Asia and the Americas.
If tighter oil sanctions are imposed and remain in place for any length of time, Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs will believe they have nothing to lose. Even allowing for Russia’s likely refusal to co-operate, Iran will become unstable, and regime change will be inevitable. Iran is unlikely to back down from its threat.
Industrial nations will not be able to accept a 35% reduction in world oil supplies. The Saudis will not tolerate a complete stop to their oil exports.
Military intervention will become inevitable. Barack Obama has seen Wag the Dog. He will be desperate to look strong and decisive.
Iran will resist any foreign forces on its territory, and they will not hesitate to use chemical or any other weapons at their disposal. They will also attack Israel, in an attempt to draw other islamic nations into the conflict. This did not work when Saddam Hussein tried it. Given Iran’s influence in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and now Egypt, it may well work when they try it.
There is a strong possibility of a major war in the Middle East in 2012.