Tiny Islands in the Strait of Hormuz
The tiny islands, only 10 square miles, are Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs. They sit in the center of the Strait of Hormuz where 40% of the world's oil passes through or about 17 million barrels. Two countries have claimed them as theirs, Iran and United Arab Emirates. Neither country likes one another and never have. Both countries see the islands as key strategic locations.
Iran has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with UAE if they continue to state internationally the islands are theirs. In 1971, when British troops left the UAE after it became a country, in November, Iran quickly sent troops to occupy them. This was two days before the UAE became a sovereign country. Until 1992, both countries more or less occupied parts of the islands until Iran, once again, expelled and forced out all UAE troops and civilians. The UAE operated a school, hospital and power station. More recently, Iran has been more provocative and now has anti-ship missiles and special forces on Abu Musa. Iran's threat of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz if they are attacked by NATO or Israel can easily be had with the islands in Iran's control.
Because the fear is real, the UAE has built a new 225, two billion dollar pipeline that will allow it to export 70% of its oil without the use of the Strait of Hormuz. Saudi Arabia has done the same. Yet, these alternative measures are still subject to Iran's terrorist attacks (as this has already occurred) on undefended pipelines and Iran only needs to toss one missile into either countries oil refinery complex to create worldwide chaos on the world oil market.
It seems that Iran really does have recourse in whatever happens. They can close the Strait of Hormuz, hands down. They can sink a few oil tankers or mine it. If that does not work, they can blow up the pipelines that cannot be defended every mile with small terrorist cells or at refineries. No wonder, from their point of view, that their pursuit of a nuclear bomb should and will continue.
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