Iran, the US and the Strait of Hormuz
The European mess risks taking focus from other important event. The Geopolitical space is still alive. From Stratfor on US, Iran and the Strait of Hormuz.
The United States reportedly sent a letter to Iran via multiple intermediaries last week warning Tehran that any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz constituted a red line for Washington. The same week, a chemist associated with Iran’s nuclear program was killed in Tehran. In Ankara, Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani met with Turkish officials and has been floating hints of flexibility in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
This week, a routine rotation of U.S. aircraft carriers is taking place in the Middle East, with the potential for three carrier strike groups to be on station in the U.S. Fifth Fleet’s area of operations and a fourth carrier strike group based in Japan about a week’s transit from the region. Next week, Gen. Michael Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will travel to Israel to meet with senior Israeli officials. And Iran is scheduling another set of war games in the Persian Gulf for February that will focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ irregular tactics for closing the Strait of Hormuz.
While tensions are escalating in the Persian Gulf, the financial crisis in Europe has continued, with downgrades in France’s credit rating the latest blow. Meanwhile, China continued its struggle to maintain exports in the face of economic weakness among its major customers while inflation continued to increase the cost of Chinese exports.
Fundamental changes in how Europe and China work and their long-term consequences represent the major systemic shifts in the international system. In the more immediate future, however, the U.S.-Iranian dynamic has the most serious potential consequences for the world.
The U.S.-Iranian Dynamic
The increasing tensions in the region are not unexpected. As we have argued for some time, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the subsequent decision to withdraw created a massive power vacuum in Iraq that Iran needed — and was able — to fill. Iran and Iraq fought a brutal war in the 1980s that caused about 1 million Iranian casualties, and Iran’s fundamental national interest is assuring that no Iraqi regime able to threaten Iranian national security re-emerges. The U.S. invasion and withdrawal from Iraq provided Iran an opportunity to secure its western frontier, one it could not pass on.
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