Why Energy Independence Matters

The Washington Times posted an article today about Iranian military exercises in the Straits of Hormuz. The Straits of Hormuz is significant because 35% of all seaborne traded oil, or almost 20% of oil traded worldwide flows through the Straits of Hormuz. This is something to watch as the situation in Iran becomes more volatile.

This is today’s Dry Bones cartoon:

The Washington Times reports:

Iran’s navy sent dozens of small boats into the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, dramatizing its ability to choke off the strategic Persian Gulf waterway — a move that could send global oil and U.S. gasoline prices soaring — and escalating the confrontation with the Trump administration for withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. officials said the naval exercise was Tehran’s way to show its capability to create a disruption in the waterway, through which some 30 percent of the world’s sea-transported oil passes daily. Officials at the Pentagon said they expected the exercise would last only a few hours, although it was unclear Thursday night whether it had ended.

“We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce,” said a statement by Navy Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman.

The development marked Iran’s latest escalation in response to Mr. Trump’s promise to begin reimposing harsh economic sanctions in the coming days that were suspended under the 2015 deal. One Pentagon source said the unexpected Iranian navy moves were meant to hammer home Tehran’s rejection of President Trump’s offer this week for direct, unconditional talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The article details the unrest in Iran:

It is an increasingly delicate moment for Mr. Rouhani, who faces protests in Iran over the nation’s struggling economy, weak growth and declining currency.

The Rouhani government has been rocked by a string of protests in cities across the country over the failing currency, mismanagement and investor fears of U.S. sanctions, the first wave of which is set to begin Tuesday. The Trump administration is pressuring Iran’s other trading partners in Europe and elsewhere to curb trade and investment ties as well.

A report by the official IRNA news agency said about 100 people took to the streets Thursday in the northern city of Sari and that demonstrations broke out in at least three other cities. The agency reported that none of the protests had official permission and all were broken up by police.

Iranian dissident groups abroad have detailed multiple demonstrations in recent days, with harsh police crackdowns in response. The Associated Press cited videos circulating on social media purporting to show dozens of demonstrators setting fire to police vehicles and shouting “death to the dictator.” The authenticity of the videos could not immediately be verified.

One way for a dictator to unite his people is to unite them against a common enemy. This may or may not work in Iran since many of the younger people in the country are more inclined toward western ideas than the ideas of the mullahs.

The article concludes:

“Any disruption of oil supplies in the Persian Gulf would be a major threat to the global economy and would hurt U.S. trading partners, thereby damaging the U.S. economy,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, who heads the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations.

U.S. domestic oil and gas production and export increases in recent years “have not reduced the U.S. need to police the free flow of oil from the Middle East,” Ms. Myers Jaffe wrote in an analysis for the think tank this week. “An oil price rise due to the loss of supply in one part of the world is reflected in U.S. price levels as well all other locations across the globe.”

Rockford Weitz, who heads the Fletcher Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University, said that in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran “could damage commercial shipping with relatively cheap anti-ship missiles, fast patrol boats, submarines and mines.

“Even threats and modest disruption to commercial shipping could trigger economic damage in the form of higher marine insurance rates, crude oil supply concerns and unsettled stock markets,” Mr. Weitz wrote in an analysis published by Tufts last month.

We live in a fragile world–keep praying.

Some Comments On The Iranian Protests

Yesterday Fred Fleitz posted an article at The Center For Security Policy website about the ongoing protests in Iran.

The article reports:

There also is significant and growing opposition to the country’s theocratic system, especially by young people. Incredibly, protesters reportedly have been chanting “We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “Death to Rouhani.”

It is no accident that the Iranian government announced today that it will no longer arrest women who go outside without wearing head scarves. So far these protests seem much smaller and not as serious as the massive Green Revolution protests that broke out in Iran after the fraudulent 2009 presidential election, which returned Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. However, Amir Taheri, a well-known Iran expert, said in the below tweet that Iranian security reportedly is reluctant to fire on protesters:

When viewing the unrest in Iran, it is wise to consider the population demographics of the country. Because of the extended war with Iraq, a large group of the population is missing. Wikipedia posted a chart of the population demographic:

As you can see from the chart (although it is a few years old, the numbers are basically accurate), the largest percentage of the Iranian population is between the ages of ten and thirty-five. This group of people has no relationship with the Islamic revolution that took place in Iran in 1979–most of them were not even born then. The younger Iranians look with envy at the western world–they do not appreciate the rules of the mullahs. It is only a matter of time before the mullahs die out and the young people take over. I am not sure that democracy is possible in Iran after all they have been through, but there will come a time when a revolt leads to a more free society and hopefully one without nuclear ambitions.

It is telling that Iranian security is reluctant to fire on the protesters. That might be the result of the mullahs not wanting to create martyrs or it might be a reaction to the fact that the mullahs no longer have a friend in the White House. There are some positive aspects of the fact that many countries consider President Trump a loose cannon.

The World Turned Upside Down

Sometimes you just have to shake your head in amazement. I have lost track of how many millions of dollars America has poured into Iran to help them fund terrorism, but it seems even our generosity has limits.

Fox Business posted a story yesterday that simply amazes me. The article reports:

Pastor Saeed Abedini, one of four American hostages released from Iran in January, shared his disbelief of Rouhani’s annual speech during an interview with FOX Business Network’s Trish Regan.

“I was just telling people that imagine leader of ISIS come to the United States after 30 years of all the executions that they did and leaders of the world shaking his hand. It’s unbelievable,” Abedini said.

Abedini said he and other hostages were left to fend for themselves after flying from Iran to Germany when they were released after the Obama Administration’s $400 million payment to Iran.

After spending a few days in a hospital in Germany, Adedini was surprised to hear that he needed to buy his own plane ticket home. 

“We were actually all shocked because I came out; I just had prison clothes and [they] just told us you need to buy your own ticket.”

Abedini said he was physically and psychologically tortured in the Iranian prison to the point where his stomach was bleeding for months from all the beatings.

We can send millions to Iran, but we can’t even buy plane tickets to bring former hostages home? That is a disgrace.

Meanwhile, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani got a warm reception at the United Nations yesterday. Iran is one of the worst human rights violators on the planet, and the United Nations says nothing–they are too busy condemning Israel for imaginary violations. It’s time to remove the United Nations from New York, collect on all the unpaid parking tickets of the delegates, and send them elsewhere. America is the main support of this organization that no longer stands for democracy and freedom. The United Nations has become enamored of the idea of one world government with the UN in charge. We need to make them go away.