The recent attack on the Oil infrastructure of Saudi Arabia is the “logical” evolution of Strategic perceptions and choices of the States that are actors of this drama.
For a fire to start, flammable materials are needed and a spark to ignite them.
The most flammable material in the area is the military strength of Iran, combined with its theocratic regime.
The area is not short of other flammable materials. Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the rest are all full of combustible material.
Like all regimes based on Ideology and not Realpolitik, the Iranian regime is bound to make dangerous choices for itself and its neighbors. The theocratic regime of Iran, having survived the Iran – Iraq war and a continuous conflict thereafter has a similar, ideology based, expansionism as that of the Soviet Union after the 2nd WW.
The limits of Soviet expansionism were defined in the aftermath of the Cuban crisis.
A similar crisis is fast approaching in the Gulf.
The present situation did not develop because Iran is ignoring the sanctions. On the contrary the present situation developed because the sanctions work.
The sanctions are slowly but surely strangling Iran.
Oil exports, which is the lifeline of Iran, are squeezed to levels that will make the whole Economy of Iran to crumble.
The graph above plainly demonstrates the situation.
The diminishing Oil income affects most of all the ruling class and the Guards of the Revolution. The foreign Policy of Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other places was financed using Iran’s Oil income in dollars that supported the ideology that accompanied them.
Already the Iranian militias in those places are complaining that they do not get enough meat anymore.
Food is already prohibitively expensive in Iran, even for the Middle Class.
It is obvious that if the sanctions continue to be applied, a breaking point will be reached, after which ideology will not fill empty stomachs and the Regime’s existence will be in danger together with its crumbling Foreign Policy.
The Iranian Regime had no reason not to be intransigent up to now. During the whole of this Century the Geopolitical power and importance of Iran is continuously increasing.
Iran has managed to surround Saudi Arabia which it considers both its strategic and religious enemy. Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen are all under strong Iranian influence and other Gulf States have to take Iran under consideration.
The hits in Fujairah, Hormuz Straits and Abqaiq demonstrated that Saudi Oil exports are vulnerable to Iranian disruptions everywhere.
Iran itself has demonstrated its capacity to absorb pain and punishment and mete out the same. Iran’s Leadership has the same ideological fanaticism as Castro’s Cuba but Russia has no control over Iran Policy as the Soviet Union had on Castro.
That means that there is no other control on Iranian regime’s violent actions, except more violent reprisals.
The danger of dramatic escalation is real.
The Trump Administration is looking for ways to reach an understanding with Iran.
The Iranians, excellent bargainers that they are, they do not wish to appear willing to cut a Deal with the Deal artist.
They have started by refusing to even talk about talks while sanctions are still enforced.
Iran knows that it is a very hard target militarily and its riposte capability is great in the area. It already threatened a “rapid and crushing response” if attacked.
President Trump’s bargaining power is not great.
Rapprochement with Iran will generate very strong reactions in Israel and Saudi Arabia, both great supporters and influencers of President Trump.
Iran is not alone. The whole Shi’itic Middle East supports Iran.
The Russians are Iran’s allies to a considerable extent.
The Chinese have started to invest hundreds of Billions of dollars in Iran and they will offer to Iran a way out of the impasse, to secure their own Oil supply.
Turkey is Iran’s regional ally.
Iran has no other option than to increase its own aggressive and damaging maximum pressure to force the United States to lift sanctions so that Iran reacquires its Oil revenues, because otherwise the survival of its theocratic regime is at stake.
Since President Trump is about to increase the sanctions to Iran, they must escalate its violence in the area.
There were two reasons up to now for the dominant US presence in the Middle East. Oil and Israel.
Oil, which now is a legacy source of Energy that will be superseded by other sources after the next ten years.
If Oil flow is impeded in the Gulf, this will be economically beneficial for the United States that has reached self-sufficiency in Hydrocarbons and already started exporting. Saudi Arabia is not therefore as important to US Policy as it was.
The remaining reason is the Security of Israel.
The convergence of interests between Israel and the Gulf states is opportunistic, focusing on the common enemy, Iran and its satellites.
Israel is discreetly supporting the Gulf States in their fight against its enemy, Iran.
The Gulf States cannot politically afford to support Israel if Iran attacks it.
Iran, if the sanctions continue after its next hits in the Gulf, will then start hitting Israel.
This is where Armageddon starts.