By Jubin Katiraie
Roughly a third of global oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, including all of Kuwait’s and Qatar’s oil, 96% of Iraq’s oil, 88% of Saudi Arabia’s oil, and2% of the UAE’s oil.
This leaves those oil tankers quite vulnerable to attacks from a hostile force, in this case, Iran, but it should be easy for military forces to control the narrow waterway lying between Iran and Oman.
Tensions in the area have increased dramatically in recent months because of the Iran's reaction to US sanctions on its oil exports, placed after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
After the US said that they wanted to cut Iranian oil exports to zero last summer, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani implicitly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. This drew praise from the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, who is known for heading extraterritorial terrorist operations, which made Iranian analysts nervous because it meant that Rouhani’s threats were not empty.
Rouhani repeated this threat in December 2018, saying that if the US blocked Iran’s oil exports, then there would be “no oil export from the Persian Gulf”.
Despite this, oil exports from the Gulf have not fallen, but Iran’s oil exports fell to about 100,000 barrels per day (b/d) in July, down from roughly 2.5 million b/d a year earlier.
Hook said: “We have effectively zeroed out Iran’s export of oil. I can’t overstate the significance of this accomplishment.
”Now, the US says that Iran did attack several oil tankers in the Gulf in the first half of this year, but that this was eventually stopped because a US secret cyber attack against Iran in June wiped out a critical database that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards used to plot covert attacks against oil tankers.
A senior US official said: “Information storage has been lost in the attack. Through this information, the IRGC was able to determine the target ship and the location of the attack”.
Tehran is still trying to recover information destroyed in the cyber attack and restart the computer systems, including military communications networks that were taken offline.
The US also called for an international coalition to safeguard freedom of navigation in the Straits of Hormuz and other Middle East waters, with many countries joining because of Iran’s threats. Essentially, their threats proved their downfall.