By William Tucker
Iranian war games are well under way in the Strait of Hormuz. In the past few days several different Iranian politicians have made statements regarding the ease with which the Strait could be closed, thus disrupting much of the world’s oil supply. Although Iranian threats regarding the Strait have been ongoing for some time it is only recently that the U.S. issued a blunt response to these threats. Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, the U.S. 5th Fleet spokeswoman, stated, “Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated.” The U.S. 5th Fleet, which is based on the island nation of Bahrain, is responsible for ensuring U.S. interests in the maritime region of the Middle East.
Iran does have several methods available to disrupt traffic in the Strait if it chose to do so; however motivation is lacking at the moment. Although the nation has had several rounds of sanctions levied against it, they have not been sufficient to prompt any overt retaliatory behavior. At the moment Iran can, and will, continue to pursue a nuclear capability in spite of the covert actions taken by its neighbors or western intelligence agencies. All this being said there is one wild card. When hostile militaries occupy a small space tense situations can get out of hand quickly. The Strait of Hormuz is vital to the world economy and we can expect heated rhetoric for the moment as both the U.S. and Iran will want to avoid any unnecessary confrontation.