Asian Conversations - an online magazine to explore Asia's future

Iran - USA: a yawning 'Persian' Gulf

AUGUST 2019: As a combative Iran - reacting to throttling US sanctions and a squeeze on its oil revenues - seizes tankers and raises alarm bells across the Persian Gulf, world leaders are scurrying to find a way out and look ahead.

It is difficult. As The Guardian writes: "As the Foreign Office surveys the wreckage of its relations with Iran, even the possible seems unavailable to British diplomacy. There are few if any good options as Britain finds its alliances and strengths tested in a new dangerous context."

The New York Times believes that while geography is important and Iran has the power to threaten or slow shipping passing through the Gulf, the issue is a broader one and involves China. "The Gulf of Oman separates not only Oman and Iran, but also Oman and Pakistan. In the southwestern corner of Pakistan, close to the Iranian border, China has completed a state-of-the-art container port at Gwadar, which Beijing hopes will eventually link up with roads, railways and pipelines to western China. And from Gwadar, the Chinese can monitor shipping traffic through the Strait of Hormuz."

Further, "It isn’t only China that is central to the Persian Gulf region. The Indians and Iranians are competing with China and Pakistan to unite the Gulf of Oman with the Eurasian interior, in the hope of linking southeastern Iran with energy-rich Central Asia."

Meanwhile the Middle East voice, Al Jazeera reports that the chain of events was set in motion by America. 'Tensions have escalated since the US unilaterally pulled out of the deal last year and reimposed severe sanctions on Tehran, vowing "maximum pressure" on its oil exports and banking sector.'

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has penned an open letter to Britain's new prime minister, saying he hopes the countriies' diplomatic ties will be stronger under Boris Johnson's leadership," reports the Times of India.

The New York Times continues: "An American war with Iran will drive the country even further into the hands of China, which already accounts for almost a third of all Iran’s energy trade. "

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