By Pooya Stone
The US decided against renewing the six-month sanctions waivers granted to eight importers of Iranian oil last November, which means that the pressure on Iran’s economy will only increase from tomorrow.
This shows that the US is serious about its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, which is designed to bring the mullahs back to the negotiating table for a new deal to address all of their malign behaviour, as well as force Iran to comply with the US’s 12 demands about acting like a normal country. Now, many watching the situation are saying that Iran is at a crossroads, the like of which have not been seen since the 1979 revolution.
Iran sees it as more of an impasse and the mullahs have made several conflicting statements about how best to deal with it. Some are threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz if Iran is not allowed to export its oil, some saying Iran is ready to negotiate, and some choosing a middle ground of advocating that the US should seek permission from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) if it wishes to use the Strait.
Iran is also worried that its militias across the Middle East may become targets of the US, following the US designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group, so they recalled a number of them to Iran to protect their assets. This has had the added bonus of increasing the suppressing of Iranians who have spent the past 18 months rising up against the mullahs.
Now, Iran still believes it can survive the Trump onslaught by holding out until he leaves office, but this won’t happen. Even Iran’s biggest allies are being forced to turn against them in order to keep access to the US financial market, like China and India, while those still entrenched in the nuclear deal with Iran, like the EU, are refusing to allow concessions until they Iran passes financial transparency laws. These countries may say that they condemn the US moves, but they clearly know that supporting Iran is dangerous.
Iraq is, for the next six weeks, still allowed to import Iranian oil, but after that time, the US will certainly end the sanctions waivers. After all, Iraq is still heavily reliant on US help to rebuild and Iran is hardly going to cough up the money.
Simply, Iran cannot outrun Trump. It’s only hope of survival is agreeing to the US’s demands to end its nuclear programme, its regional expansionism, and its support for terrorist militias.
Dr Mohammed Al-Sulami, the Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies, wrote: “It should, rather, begin taking steps to transform Iran into a responsible state, rather than one intent on revolutionary expansion. Iran should also renounce the “resistance” policy it has pursued for decades.”Of course, Iran will not do this because the Regime is incapable of change and will soon be overthrown by the people.