Iran has been playing a game of “chicken” in the Persian Gulf with its multiple threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. The Obama administration has taken no chances, relaying a message to the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei through an unnamed envoy that closing the Strait would be a "red line" that would force the United States to respond.
Although Iran’s provocations have caused small increases in the price of oil, they ultimately stem from a position of weakness. U.S.-led economic sanctions have caused a major drop in the value of the Iranian currency, the rial, while persistent international isolation has left Iran with few allies abroad and a divided political system at home. Nevertheless, Iran’s threats are serious, and if not handled properly, could lead to broader regional conflict. To close the strait, Iran is likely considering an asymmetric strategy similar to what it tried during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. In response to the Iranian threat, the United States will hold joint naval exercises with Israel next month and will deploy a new type of high-altitude drone to monitor Iranian naval movements.
ALSO CHECK OUT:
CIA Director Hayden: Inaction on Iran More Dangerous Than Action.
(January 12, 2011)
Erratic Iranian Behavior Points to a Volatile and Dangerous Year Includes assessmments from Ambassador John Bolton, CIA Director Michael Hayden, and Ambassador Otto Reich. (January 3, 2011)
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