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28 Dec, 2011 15:28

Oil standoff: Iran, West on brink of war?

A top Iranian military official has said blocking a crucial oil export channel will be "easier than drinking a glass of water." Experts say the West should listen, because Iran’s influence in the region has grown significantly.

Iran’s navy chief Habibollah Sayyari said that "closing the Strait of Hormuz for Iran's armed forces is really easy.”The US Navy has responded by saying the threat is unacceptable. "Anyone who threatens to disrupt the freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated," said Amy Derrick Frost, spokesperson for the US Navy 5th Fleet in Bahrain.Earlier this week Iran announced it will block the Strait of Hormuz, which sees the transport of over one sixth of the world’s oil trade, if the West sanctions the country’s oil exports.Political analyst Chris Bambery thinks that as American control in the Middle East is weakening and Iranian is growing, “We are witnessing quite a dangerous escalation.”“We now see that American control of the Middle East is weakest in decades… it is not in control of Iraq, Iran has considerable influence in Iraq, is extending its influence in Afghanistan.”Commenting on the possible Iranian blockade of the strait, Bambery said that if the US tries to force open the passage, “that would mean war with Iran, and that would be a huge escalation and would threaten world peace.”He believes that for the US it is not simply a military conflict, but something that could spill into a regional conflict in which the US has a much weaker hand than it had a decade ago.According to Bambery, Iran is in much stronger position now and, as he sees it, “Iranians are really challenging Americans sensing the American weakness.”He also said that the Western nations are making a big mistake because the “Iranian economy is doing well and Iran is in the position to exert more influence in the regional basis as we saw this week with these new agreements in Afghanistan.” “It is the West who has racked up that situation,” he concluded.