September 22, 2019 Iran’s President on Sunday called on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations. Iranian officials have repeatedly blamed the U.S. presence for creating instability in the region’s waterways.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized the new U.S. – led coalition patrolling the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic Guard Corp military arsenal.
In June, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary, Ali Shamkhani called on U.S. forces to finish their presence in the region, saying they are the main source of crisis and instability. Secretary Shamkhani emphasized Iran’s ongoing responsibility for security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday accused Iranian leaders of being “bloodthirsty” and eager for war. Pompeo suggested that President Trump would take additional steps to retaliate against Tehran for its alleged role in attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities. While visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, Pompeo called the attack an “act of war.”
President Trump announced plans for “substantial new sanctions” against Iran on Wednesday, just days after the attacks.
Who Was Behind the Saudi Oil Refineries Attacks?
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks, but both Saudi and U.S. military investigations last week concluded the unprecedented drone and missile attacks targeting the world’s largest oil processing plant were carried out with Iranian weapons and was not launched from Yemen.
Iran has categorically denied any involvement in the Saudi attack. Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Thursday that any U.S. or Saudi military strike on Iran would result in “all out war.”
The coordinated attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities disrupted about half of the kingdom’s oil capacity, or 5% of the daily global oil supply.
U.S. — Iran Tensions
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have continued to rise since May, when a U. S. military assessment blamed several oil tanker attacks in the Gulf on Iran. Iran admits to shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a move that prompted President Trump to order U.S. air strikes in retaliation—which he called off at the last minute.
In June, the Pentagon deployed 1,000 additional U.S. troops to the Middle East to address the growing threat posed by Iran.
On June 24, President Trump signed an executive order targeting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s Foreign Minister with financial sanctions. Trump told reporters at the White House that Iran must never have a nuclear weapon.
Iran has refused to engage in fresh talks unless the United States lifts the crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.
STRAIT OF HORMUZ—Why it matters
President Trump has repeatedly downplayed growing global concerns that Iran might make good on threats to close off the Strait of Hormuz—a move that could cripple some countries economy.
The Strait of Hormuz separates Iran to the north and the Musandam Governorate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and the world’s most strategically important maritime choke point and a main artery for the transport of oil from the Middle East.
Approximately 22.5 million barrels of oil a day pass through the Strait of Hormuz since the start of 2018, according to Vortexa, an energy analytics firm. That’s roughly 24% of daily global oil production, and nearly 30% of oil moving over the world’s oceans.