The U.S. fought a financial and cyber war with Iran in 2012–13 with great success. As a result of being excluded from the global payments system, Iran could not receive hard currency for its oil.
The value of the Iranian rial plunged on the black market, there were runs on Iranian banks, interest rates were raised to 20% to stop the bank runs and inflation was soaring. There was popular unrest due to the inflation and currency collapse. The U.S. was well on the way to regime change in Iran without firing a shot. All of that ended in late 2013 when Obama called a truce in exchange for Iran entering into negotiations on its nuclear weapons programs.
Those negotiations lead to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015. The U.S. gave Iran billions of dollars in cash and gold as the price of agreeing to the JCPOA. Then in 2018, President Trump tore up the JCPOA and resumed the financial war. Iran is now the target of “maximum pressure” in the form of financial warfare that again cuts Iran off from global payments systems and punishes any companies involved in sales of oil by Iran.
The impact on Iran is even worse than in 2013 because Iran wasted a lot of the cash and gold it received supporting terrorism in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Sinai and Yemen. Demonstrations are again breaking out in Iran. The difference now is that Iran is ready to fight back.
As this article shows, Iran’s leaders have said that if Iran cannot sell its oil on world markets, they will make sure other Gulf states cannot sell their oil either. The fastest way to back up that threat is to close the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow body of water where almost all of the Gulf oil output — including oil from Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia — passes.
Other possible tactics include disabling the Gulf oil infrastructure with missile attacks or sabotage. For now, the world does not seem to be taking these threats seriously. Oil prices have been rising but have not hit the panic stage yet. In any case, Iran will strike back in some fashion as U.S. sanctions begin to bite. Along with currency wars and trade wars.
This will be one more factor pushing the world closer to a global recession or worse.
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