The Hormuz Straits: Winners and Losers in this Zone of Conflict

The Zone of Conlfict Area
The Zone of Conlfict Area

When the Arab oil producing countries in the 70's began their embargo and quit producing oil that fed the West, the shock was felt at all levels. Prices skyrocketed creating very long lines for consumers to get gas, spending hours just to get a quota for an abnormally high price. The shock had all sorts of ripple effects. In America, it was a real "wake up" call to their oil addiction, which exists.

Fast forward to 2010 or beyond. Times have changed yet we are still addicted to Arab oil. Most of this oil is pumped out from wells and loaded onto tankers and super tankers and carried along the narrow sea lanes of the Persian Gulf that Iran claims as their own and through the even narrower Hormuz Straits. Numerous choke points riddle the whole passage and even the US Navy needs to carefully navigate to stay out of iran's territorial waters. Thus, Iran is in a most unique position. It can easily with little effort disrupt the oil flow by simply firing its numerous anti-ship missiles at the helpless tankers. Take a few out in minutes. Spill millions of gallons of oil causing an environmental calamity. It could simply suddenly launch its short and mid-range missiles at any of the oil fields well within their range.

By doing so, the winner is Russia and Iran. Russia gains in Iran's dependence on Russian gas and oil, worse, Europe which already uses Russian oil and gas, will rely on it even more as the oil transport is disrupted. Iran wins simply by doing this and knowing the US and others really cannot do much. China loses because Iran could make it more expensive for China to import Iran's oil and gas since China's alternate sources are in disarray. Iran wins because it has now used its military power to control the world's oil supplies by disrupting it. This invokes a powerful, long lasting threat. The threat will force countries with oil to become more "pro" towards Iran out of fear and not be "pro" US. The US is a loser because not much can be done without making the delicate situation even far worse. It loses because it also goes into shock when world oil prices zoom up and make the 70's look cheap. The US also becomes more isolated amongst the allied nations because of self interest. Russia has a keen interest with Iran, as Iran relies more on Russia. European nations also tend to rely on Russia for oil and gas. All this weakens the relationship with the US and this empowers Russia.

Comments 6 comments

someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 6 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

We,don't really need their oil.We have enough of our own.We just don't want to build anymore refineries and that keeps the price of oil high and the fact that China and many other countries are dependent on the mideastern oil and will need more refined oil for their budding automotive market will only make the price go higher.We,know it,and they know it.Aside from these facts,another reason we continue to buy foreign oil is it takes money out our economy,so we can continue to milk the economy of it's purchasing power thru loans ,that require interest payments.The fact that our dollar is tied to the price of oil is another reason we want the price of oil to be relatively high.Artificial fertilizer and the poor quality food that results from using oil instead of naturally organic fertilized crops that have all the minerals needed for crop and in turn human health are some other reasons.Our mental and physical well being,and that of our economy and the world is tied to cheap energy.We have the technology,and the ability,to have cheap and clean altenative energy but not the will to make it happen.Either we can and won't do it for reasons only a few know about,or we can and are being forced not to ,by those very same people.I'm not talking about wind,wave,or even solar.I'm talking machines that produce more energy,anywhere at anytime.No,wind,or even water needed,though water can be used in at least one of these techologies effectively.


perrya profile image

perrya 6 years ago Author

Which is why if the shipping lanes are closed, it will be a major problem for the world.


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 6 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

The technology exists to replace ocean transportation as well.Our military has kept this techology to themselves for "National Security reasons".At ,least that's what their excuse is.If,we had had the N.S.A. back before the automobile was invented,we would all still be riding horse and buggy's.


perrya profile image

perrya 6 years ago Author

Replace ocean transportation? How would oil tankers be used?Sounds like X-files stuff.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

perrya - I think you have over discounted the reaction likely from the Saudis and Kuwaits on this. They both have very advanced Air Forces and I think the war would be bloody, fierce and long, but eventually end in favor of the Western Side of the Gulf.

I also think most of the world (including China) would finally admit what it knows already that the world economy through oil is worth the blood of their troops.


perrya profile image

perrya 6 years ago Author

Well, maybe, bloody for sure and the consequences of it would be long lasting even once it is concluded.

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