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Maneuverings by the Iranian Regime   

Al Hayat - 23 February, 2012
Author: Randa Takieddine

Iran's decision to halt its oil exports to France and Great Britain is ludicrous. The two countries had stopped their purchases of Iranian oil since the decision by the European Union to impose oil sanctions on Iran. France's Total announced that it stopped purchasing oil from Iran, and Britain did the same thing. Thus, the announcement by Iran is aimed at raising the price of oil on world markets. Iran continues to sell its oil to Asia, despite banking sector sanctions faced by countries that buy oil from the Islamic Republic, because of these sanctions on a number of Iranian banks, and despite the difficulty of securing non-Iranian tankers to transport Iranian oil. All of these complications are prompting Iran to make statements aimed at increasing the price of oil, because it is obliged to give its clients huge price discounts on this oil. The Iranian statements mean that speculators and brokers in international markets are influenced by psychological factors, and speculation in the direction of a price increase. There is no shortfall in the world's petroleum supply. Gulf OPEC countries have increased their production for those who want to buy more oil. These countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are determined to see oil market stability and no shortfalls, wherever they might be. Oil markets are supplied with sufficient quantities, and there is no reason to fear a shortfall. All of Iran's moves, from sending warships to Syrian shores and threatening the world, and deterring any chance of military intervention to topple the Syrian regime, are all part of Iran's maneuvers to raise the price of oil. The Iranian threat to ignite war in the region affects prices, just as geopolitical tension in the Middle East does.

Moreover, there are also elections coming in Iran and the regime needs to flex its muscles and show itself to the public as a strong regime that can be threatened by no one. The Iranian Republic also wants to defend the Syrian regime, which no one wants to topple militarily. The Iranian regime realizes that the collapse of the Syrian regime means it will lose its "arm" in the Middle East, from Lebanon to Iraq and Palestine. This threatens Iran's ability to maneuver with the west over its nuclear program and its aggressive policies in the region. Iran is the second biggest exporter in OPEC, with around 3.8 million barrels a day, but its productive capacity is declining because of sanctions and a scarcity of the required equipment for field maintenance. Its oil revenues are dropping and it is selling oil in non-international currencies, such as the Indian Rupee. India bought oil from Iran and paid for it in Indian currency, which makes things more difficult for Iran. Certainly, supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran are unaware of the degree of the economic situation's deterioration in their rich country, whose resources are squandered by the regime. They are happy when they hear their president challenge the world and send warships to protect a regime in Syria, which is on the edge of the abyss. Meanwhile, Iran develops its atomic bomb, to become a nuclear power. The majority of Iranians, who are oppressed and silent until further notice, are aware of the fragility of the regime's claims that it is a great power. Iran suffers from poor socio-economic conditions, and despite this, the regime continues to send money to Syria and Hezbollah, although the figures have dropped due to declining revenues. All of this provokes the anger of many Iranians; a popular uprising was put down after presidential elections, but it might erupt once again. The regime is keen to divert the attention of the public with its worthless maneuvers, such as its declaration to stop exporting oil to France and Britain.
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