Brian Hook, the senior policy advisor to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has announced a United States’ alliance with Saudi Arabia amidst declaring unilateral sanctions against Iran and any nation wishing to trade with them.
The dramatic move will come into effect May 2, when waivers to several nations currently trading with Iran for oil imports will cease. The waivers, designed to grant nations importing Iranian oil a time frame to find alternative energy sources, will no longer be extended, announced Hook and Pompeo this week.
The nations most affected include China, NATO member Turkey, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece and Taiwan.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s reasons behind “going to zero [imports or Iranian crude] across the board” is intended to “crumble Iran’s economy,” elaborated Hook in an interview with Bloomberg, and will continue until Iran ends its “pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
But what will sanctions achieve and will the world be well enough supplied to maintain a moderately stable global economy?
Let’s break down Hook’s comments further (You can view the clip below):
- “There will not be any supply interruption as a consequence of our decision today.”
Hook told Bloomberg that the world is better supplied in 2019 than in previous years, putting the United States “in a better position to accelerate the path to zero.”
Nonetheless, with a looming recession and a weakening global economy, the rise in oil prices (which have already spiked to $75 a barrel last week) will raise business costs that will eventually be passed onto the consumer, equating in a weaker global growth all around.
And then there’s the chess piece in the form of Tehran’s promise to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. This small section of Strait, only 21 miles across at its narrowest point, currently channels around 40 percent of the world’s oil from OPEC nations to the rest of the world. If shut down, and Iran has this capability, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Middle Eastern suppliers such as Kuwait and Iraq will lose their means of transporting their oil globally.
As a result of the drop, oil prices will conceivably reach in excess of $100 per barrel, with some predicting $150.
2. “We have worked very close with Saudi Arabia, and today they released a statement ensuring that they will offset any Iranian barrels lost . . .”
With prices likely to increase to $80 a barrel in coming weeks, relying on Saudi Arabia is somewhat dubious. A nation increasingly thumbing its nose to UN human rights conventions, Saudi Arabia is not the most reliable country.
Couple this with OPEC nation Libya currently struggling with a looming civil war, and Venezuela sanctioned out of the picture with a US military coup set to eventuate, any loss in oil means little room for absorbing shocks in the economy.
3. “Because we need to really deny Iran the revenue it needs to destabilise the Middle East through all of its proxy wars.”
Initially, the agenda was to force Tehran’s hand in giving away their nukes after Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and most world powers. Then it went to a requirement that Iran must cease all missile capabilities.
Now, according to Hook, it has turned into an initiative to destabilise the region under the guise of destabilising Iran.
And in case you’re wondering on the proxy wars being referred to, they are those that stood in the way of ISIS in Syria or Israel expansion into Lebanon and Syria, and American agendas—which are noted in CIA documents as early as 1983.
4. “There are over 20 countries that used to import Iranian crude that are now at zero … there is no hint that they want to run afoul of American sanctions. We’re giving countries a choice: You can either do business with the United States or you can import Iranian crude oil and given that choice, it’s not a hard decision.”
If we pulled this statement apart and applied a healthy level of cynicism, one might be forgiven for thinking those 20 other countries are too scared to stand up to the American Empire. And can you blame them, particularly in the current climate of Venezuela, Cuba, Libya, Iraq and Syria?
Yet it seems many countries have had enough of the American Ways that have dominated much of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The European Union’s Response:
In a sharp response to the US measures this week, France has taken the lead with Germany and the UK, pledging to “abide by the terms of the Iran nuclear accord.”
The French foreign ministry is now on record stating they will ensure Iran receives economic benefits providing they continue to comply with its nuclear obligations. Stating this with glaring transparency, the US now must reckon with a new currency system between their old alliance, the EU, and Iran set to bypass sanctions.
China’s response has remained cool. To say the least, the US dictating to China that they must seek permission from Washington before entering trade agreements with another nation reeks of an Imperialism unlikely to amuse. What they have stated is they “oppose unilateral sanctions.”
“Pushing to buy oil from other countries besides Iran goes too far,” tweeted Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Carusoglu, referring to the extremely strained relations between Ankara, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
At a press conference, Carusoglu elaborated: “Why are you putting pressure on other countries? Take your own measures. Why do other countries have to obey your unilateral decisions?” and added that the United States’ deliberate disruption of international law is dangerous.
4. “Iran has a choice: they can either start behaving like a normal nation or they can watch their economy crumble.”
Correct. They do have a choice, but so does the rest of the world.
Iran is not a shining beacon of light, with many human rights issues yet to be resolved—but the United States is hardly a good example. Regime change and military coups are more than we can count. Maybe it is only a matter of time before a tiring international community imposes their own unilateral sanctions on an Empire seemingly crumbling.