Iran is being driven into a tight corner by US President Donald Trump’s aggressive policies, which can become an existential cul-de-sac for the Tehran regime and possibly force it to turn on its perceived tormentors, including Washington, Tel Aviv and others, by asymmetric ripostes. The ‘Moving Spirit’ behind Trump’s Iran policy is to reduce that still functioning, sanctions-ridden country into another chaotic Iraq, Syria or Libya, thereby removing the last potential ‘threat’ to its Middle East colonist collaborator, or rather éminence grise, Israel. Unfortunately, ‘the Moving Spirit conquers Reason still’. But the consequences can prove catastrophic for regional stability, crude prices, free movement of oil supplies, and for the fragile global economy wobbling under recession, and wilting growth rates. Most at risk of financial drowning are debt-ridden countries with somersaulting currencies, low foreign exchange reserves and negative trade deficits, for which rising oil prices would sound the trumpet of doom. Appear familiar?
After unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, much to the chagrin of its EU allies, and lately labelling the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organisation, the Trump-Bolton-Pompeo mischief trio is ending all previous waivers on Iranian oil exports from May 2, news of which instantly resulted in a 3.2 per cent hike in crude prices to $74.31, the highest since 1st November 2018, and caused ripples of concern in the power corridors of China and India, the two major buyers of Iranian oil, as well as in Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The abrupt disappearance of daily 1.2 million barrels of Iranian oil from the market is expected to be made good by passive, profit-oriented OPEC, especially by Saudi Arabia, which has apparently become a willing pawn in the Great (war) Game against Iran. China, embroiled in a lose-lose trade war initiated by President Trump (who else!), has raised a dissonant voice (as has Turkey) against the unilateral US gimmick. China, Russia and the EU need to take a principled stand in the UN to thwart such obviously politically motivated US diktat. Imran Khan’s pledge of enhanced bilateral trade made on his recent Iran visit, will also remain a pipe dream for fear of US sanctions and decisive US influence with FATF-IMF.