elf-Damaging Iranian Propaganda
Anwar Altaqi – Esam Aziz
For decades, Iran hasinsulted Arab states, attacking their territories under the pretext of defending its national interests. This is the same Iran that bemoans theArabs’ “betrayal” of brotherly relations and religious bonds when it suits its interests. Why does the Iranian regime expect Arab nations, so often under assault from theIslamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to cooperate with its aggressive policies?
This paradoxical picture has become increasingly clear in recent weeks.In past issues of this bulletin, we have explained why it is now unfavorable to keep tightening OPEC-Russia output of oil and gas when prices go up at an accelerating rate. We cited Bahrain’s oil minister’s remarks on the expected rush of investment, which will later increase output and turn the market toward the path of “reversed imbalance.” We analyzed the impact of high prices on the shale sector. Finally, we explained why excessively higher prices are unsustainable. Now is the right moment to increase production — or decrease it for this matter — in response to prices.
This picture is clear for all serious oil experts. Yet, we see here a funny alternative. As we have also documented in previous issues, Iran rejected the OPEC and Russian move to decrease output to lift prices when prices were relatively low. But now, Iran refuses to increase OPEC-Russia production to bring prices down. Iran’s behavior has spawned a new joke in the oil market: Whatever position OPEC takes, Tehran will take the opposite, regardless of reasons orargument.
It is also peculiar to see the Iranians dismiss the many reasons why OPEC and Russia want to now increase production, and instead only focus on the propaganda that OPEC is simply responding to pressure from U.S.President Donald Trump. If this is true, then what about Russia? Is Russia also responding to this pressure? Why would they adhere to another country’s interests at the expense of their own?
President Trump represents the interests of his country. President Putin and the leaders of OPEC represent their own. The fact that Trump said that OPEC has to increase its output now when Russia and OPEC were considering this months ago does not make the recent decision of OPEC and Russia a reflection of what the U.S.president wants or does not want. Trump is not the president of OPEC or Russia.
Then again, why does Iran want to increase its production, hence bringing prices down? Did Iran notreject the Russia-OPEC agreement to cap output unless the agreement granted Iran an exception and allowed it to produce as much as it wished? Wasn’t is the wish of the United States that major producers throw in the market as much as they can? Was Iran bowing to U.S. pressure then? As Tehran continues to increase its production, even today, why does it criticize OPEC and Russia for doing exactly the same thing? Iran increases production and OPEC and Russia decrease it when the United States wanted more oil in the market, and yet, the Iranians say the OPEC and Russia are blindly followingU.S. orders. Isn’t this a funny picture?
It simply verbal criticism. IRGC commander Ismail Kowsari said that Tehran will block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if the United States bans Iranian oil sales. Making threats is the onlylanguage the Iranian regime knows how to speak. But Tehran should know that Trump will not back down on Iran sanctions. If the Iranian say the Trump is pressuring U.S. allies to keep prices down, do they believe that he would not use forces against U.S. enemies to achieve the same goal?
Furthermore, the Europeans and East Asians will support the use of force against whoever threatens their oil resources. If the Strait of Hormuz goes down, the United States will ban U.S. petroleum exports again as oil will become very scarce and prices will soar. Places like Japan, China, and South Korea — as well as Europe — will quickly run short of oil. That would be a nightmare, as 20percent of all the world’s oil production goes through the Strait of Hormuz, including 35 percent of all oil transported by ship.
It is time for the Iranian regime to stop its empty propaganda; it damages any shred of credibility it still has. Moreover, it strengthens those it perceives as enemies, including Arab nations and the United States. It looks like an arrow shot by the Revolutionary Guards making a U-Turn in midair to head directly at who shot it in the first place.