Iran’s Persian Gulf gambit takes shape [Asiatimes]

Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Responding to the onset of the European Union’s oil embargo with a defiant show of military strength and renewed threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has signaled to the West that it won’t be a passive victim of economic warfare.

Iranian officials this week made defiant remarks over a United States build up of forces in the Persian Gulf after a three-day missile drill concluded on Wednesday. The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ aerospace division, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said that all US bases in the region are within the reach of Iran’s missiles.

The Great Prophet 7 exercise concluded a day after a “technical meeting” between Iran and the Iran “5 +1″ on Tuesday that, as

expected, failed to produce any meaningful results.

The US had dispatched two of its top proliferation experts, Gary Samore and Robert Einhorn, to the meeting in Istanbul, likely to indicate its commitment to the “diplomatic channel”. However, few Iranians are convinced that the US and its Western allies are serious about reaching a compromise. As was noted by Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, “some countries are not serious about negotiation”.

Even in the US there is a rising chorus of disapproval over the Western approach toward Iran, with US commentators criticizing Western governments for failing to offer Iran any tangible rewards in exchange for concessions Tehran is willing to offer on the issue of its enriched uranium.

The international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz has also openly defended Iran’s legitimate right to develop a nuclear arsenal to balance against Israel’s destabilizing nuclear monopoly. (See Why Iran does not want the bomb, Asia Times Online, July 4, 2012).

The credibility of the West’s coercive approach to Iran has been undermined and no amount of US or Israeli propaganda can hide the fact. It is also growing harder to obscure that the rigid and inflexible Western strategy vis-a-vis Iran has put the world on the brink of a disastrous war, in light of rising temperatures in Persian Gulf.

The battle over Hormuz

Concerned over pending legislation in the Iranian Majlis (parliament) calling for a closure of the Strait of Hormuz – at least to oil tankers en route to countries that have accepted US sanctions – the US Navy has beefed up its presence in Persian Gulf.

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