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Tags: abbas | bahrain | hormuz

Trump's All or Nothing Mandate on Doing Business With Iran

us president donald trump

President Donald Trump walks with US Ambassador before boarding the Marine One helicopter. Trump advocated pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement, saying a united front is the best way to persuade Tehran to change its course. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Micah Halpern By Thursday, 25 April 2019 04:03 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The pressure mounts as the game of rhetoric and power played out by the U.S. and Iran continues with ever increasing, even dizzying speed.

It's a game which can easily spin out of control and the results can be devastating — not just for the U.S. and Iran, but also for the international community.

The global oil market is at risk, as is the status quo and the calm of the entire Mideast region.

Iran, subject to threats from American is hitting back and countering with threats of its own.

First the United States cancelled all of the eight waivers permitting certain countries to import oil from Iran. Next, President Donald Trump announced that any country importing anything — especially oil — from Iran will be sanctioned by the US.

Plain and simple, not couched in diplomatic parlance, Trump is giving allies a choice: do business with Iran or do business with the United States.

Thus, the choice is simple. You cannot do both!

Iran’s response was an announcement that, if not permitted to export their oil, they will close the Straits of Hormuz. Of  the world's oil, 20% to 30 % passes through the Straits of Hormuz Each day.

The Straits are a narrow swath of water deep enough for tankers to traverse and for Iran’s navy to patrols and control. Iran controls the waterway.

By threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz, Iran is also threatening Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Iran is saying to them you think you can replace us and promise Donald Trump that you will fill the supply gap – well, don't count on it.

According to Iran's President Rouhani, "You whose existence is in the shadow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, how can you tell Trump that if you bring Iran's oil exports to zero we will make up for it? ... Do you understand the consequences of this statement and that it means you are a definite enemy of the Iranian people?"

Rouhani went on to say that if the United States wants to negotiate, all sanctions need to be lifted and an apology must be issued, referring to a prisoner exchange. This is Rouhani's phraseology: "Negotiation is only possible if all the pressures are lifted, they apologize for their illegal actions and there is mutual respect."

The Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has also chimed in. The Supreme Leader of Iran said, "America's efforts in sanctioning the sale of Iranian oil won't get anywhere . . . We can export as much of our oil as we need and want."

This game is serious. The world oil market will feel the effects of this standoff. Oil is now at its highest price since November.

And now this game of rhetoric and power has expanded to include the Middle East peace process.

Jared Kushner, in conjunction with the Trump White House, has begun a campaign to prop up and promote their "deal of the century." The Palestinians have already rejected that "deal" on more than one occasion and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has embarked on his own campaign.

And Iran has declared that they are siding with the Palestinians against the U.S.

Abbas has called a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council to be held on May 15th in the city of Ramallah. The Council will discuss rescinding recognition of Israel and no longer engaging in security or any other interactions and exchanges with Israel.

They will discuss separating from Israel and from the United States and putting forth all requests — not just financial and military aid — to Europe. The most important appeal they will make will be for statehood and international recognition.

The message Abbas is sending to the U.S. and Kushner and Trump is we do not want your deal, we want a state — and Europe will recognize our statehood. They are saying we, the Palestinians, do not need your support or your signing off on what we receive from Russia, the European Union and even from Iran. Gone are those days when the United States could dictate to us.

Pledging their support for the Palestinians is another move in the game Iran is playing against the United States. European nations have not responded to the Palestinian proclamation, neither have other Middle Eastern countries.

May 15 is fast approaching and we will soon know if the Palestinians emerge successful in their campaign and if, to their delight and to the delight of Iranian leadership, they have outsmarted the United States.

Iran has not engaged in this game with the United States only to promote itself as a world power. The honor of Islam is at stake. Iran is standing up to the U.S. in defense of the honor of Islam. One misstep or one misinterpretation — one move or countermove, could cascade the entire region into a conflict.

Think of it as a massive global game of chess.

What makes this game even more challenging than the interplay between the pieces now on the board is the missing piece. Other than the architects of the "deal of the century" no one knows what’s inside, no one knows the big reveal.

No one knows how great or small a role that deal will really play.

No one knows who, in the end, will be happy and who will be disappointed.

And yet, the game goes on.

Iran takes its role as leader of the Islamic world very seriously. And Iran takes its role as oil exporter just as seriously.

Oil is Iran’s livelihood, oil is Iran’s identity.

Don’t expect any white flag of surrender.

This game will not be over until the fireworks are launched.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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Iran takes its role as leader of the Islamic world very seriously. And Iran takes its role as oil exporter just as seriously. Oil is Iran’s livelihood, oil is Iran’s identity. Don’t expect any white flag of surrender. This game will not be over until the fireworks are launched.
abbas, bahrain, hormuz
Thursday, 25 April 2019 04:03 PM
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