Saudi adviser: Sanctions unlikely to stop Iran exports completely

A tug boat moves cargo towards the Strait of Hormuz, in Musandam province, Oman, July 20, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 29 August 2018
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Saudi adviser: Sanctions unlikely to stop Iran exports completely

  • If Iran closes Strait of Hormuz, the UN Security Council is likely to authorize military action

STAVAGNER, NORWAY: Current US sanctions on Iran are unlikely to stop Iranian oil exports completely, a long-time adviser at Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry said on Tuesday, adding Iran would be unable to close the straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab even partially.
Speaking at an oil conference in the Norwegian city of Stavanger, Ibrahim Al-Muhanna said Iran would be the first to lose out on a move to block those major shipping routes and that any such action would trigger further sanctions on Iran.
Iran has said if it cannot sell its oil due to US pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz.
“The amount of oil going through the Strait of Hormuz is so large. There’s more than 18 million barrels a day, about two-thirds of world maritime oil trade. Meaning, cutting oil from there will lead to an acute oil shortage and prices will skyrocket,” Muhanna said.
“Is Iran able or willing to close completely, or even partially, the Strait of Hormuz or Bab Al-Mandab, or both? The answer is no, and a really big no ... Current sanctions are unlikely to stop Iranian exports completely.”
He said if Iran closes Strait of Hormuz, the UN Security Council is likely to authorize military action.
Earlier on Monday, Iran went to the UN highest court in a bid to have US sanctions lifted, calling the US move "naked economic aggression."
Iran filed the case with the International Court of Justice in July, claiming that sanctions the Trump administration imposed on May 8 breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates economic and consular ties between the two countries.
At hearings at The Hague, Tehran asked judges at the world court to urgently suspend the sanctions to protect Iranian interests while the case challenging their legality is being heard — a process that can take years.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the legal move an attempt by Tehran "to interfere with the sovereign rights of the US to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 pact between Iran and major world powers under which sanctions were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program. The Trump administration then announced unilateral plans to restore sanctions against Tehran.


War on militants ‘won’t end unless West tackles root causes’

Daesh militants wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq. (AP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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War on militants ‘won’t end unless West tackles root causes’

  • Driven from lands it once held sway over in Syria and Iraq, Daesh has returned to its origins as an underground militant outfit
  • “Beyond the tactical victories on the ground, the current strategy is failing”

WASHINGTON: Western powers fighting militant groups around the globe are condemned to a never-ending battle if they only tackle the symptoms and not the underlying causes of militant insurgency, experts say.

“Beyond the tactical victories on the ground, the current strategy is failing,” said Katherine Zimmerman, who wrote a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute.

“Every soldier and intelligence analyst that has worked on this problem understands what is happening,” Zimmerman told AFP.

“They understand that what they are doing is a temporary solution. It’s ending the immediate threat but not stabilizing or moving us forward. The problem comes down to policy and politics,” she noted.

“It’s easy to say, ‘We’re going to kill the person responsible for making the bomb.’ It is much more difficult to say that our partner government has disenfranchised this group and it’s one of the reasons why this person joins the terrorist group. And now he is the bomb maker.”

Driven from lands it once held sway over in Syria and Iraq, Daesh has returned to its origins as an underground militant outfit because the conditions that spawned it — a deep discontent among most Iraqis and Syrians — have persisted, experts say.

“The West is on the road to winning all the battles and losing the war,” warned Zimmerman.

In a report last month on the resurgence of Daesh as a clandestine guerrilla group, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that while the US and allied governments have weakened some groups like Daesh, “many of the underlying causes have not been adequately addressed.”

Those root causes include a “fragile state with weak or ineffective governing institutions” in areas affected by militant activity, where the extremists can establish a sanctuary, the CSIS experts said.

They took maps showing areas where Al-Qaeda and Daesh were active and compared them to maps displaying “government effectiveness,” based on World Bank statistics.

The result was clear: Most of the countries where the insurgents are active — Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia — are also in the bottom 10 percent for government effectiveness.

At a conference this week in Washington, retired Marine Gen. John Allen — who once commanded US forces in Afghanistan and now heads the prestigious Brookings Institution — said the West had to get ahead of the issue and ask, “Where should we be looking for the next problems?”

“We should spend a great deal more time looking at those areas that are in fragile or failing states,” said Allen, who also served as presidential envoy to the international coalition battling Daesh.

“We have to recognize the hotspots where the human condition prompts the radicalization of large sectors of the population,” he added.

“Often we join the conversation when the process of radicalization has been in place for quite a long time.”

Allen noted that the problem is “a development issue, much more than a counter-terrorism issue.”