May 27, 2020
The Iranian regime with the arrival of its oil tanker on the coasts of Venezuela seeks to show it as a victory against the global sanctions, especially imposed by the U.S. government.
Fouad Izadi, a regime analyst, who described the regime’s tanker entry into Venezuela’s water as a success, said sarcastically to the faction belonging to the regime’s President Hassan Rouhani:
“Some have always criticized the country’s foreign policy over the years, saying that our foreign policy is costly. They believe that if Iran’s relationship with Europe and the United States would be better, Iran can benefit from the economic and political benefits of this good relationship, and there is a well-known saying in this pro-ideology circles saying that America is a dairy cow that we are now clinging to its horn while we have to cling to its chest and take advantage of the bonds of communication with it.” (Tasnim, 24 May)
Not ready for a new crisis
This is a false claim of victory while these days the whole regime is in a state of stress and anxiety about the possible reaction of the United States.
Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of the National Security Commission of the regime’s parliament, feared the consequences of circumventing the sanctions and sending gasoline to Venezuela. From a defensive standpoint, he tried to bring the United States to side with the regime by engaging Corona and reminding it of the common interests of the two countries. And while adding the two countries to each other he pointed out that the Iranian regime is not ready for any further crisis.
“First, the two countries are affected by the coronavirus, and second, the world is so preoccupied with COVID-19, the recession and depression caused by the disease that it is by no means ready for a new crisis.” (Hamshari Online 24 May)
“If a spark is formed, the management is out of the hands of both parties. I believe that Iran and the United States must find a way to reduce tensions between them. Unfortunately, today’s actors are thinking more and more about the benefits of stress instead of relieving stress. Global actors like Iran and the United States hitting each other in the corner of the ring as much as possible to weaken the United States and reduce Iran’s influence in the region.”
Choosing between the worse and the worst
The question is, why did the clerical dictatorship take this risk? The fact is that, as noted, this is due to economic suffocation and despair, while taking such a risk.
The head of the regime’s Iran-China Chamber of Commerce said in a statement reflected by the state-run Hamdeli daily (23 May) about the Coronavirus’ influence on Iran’s economy: “One of the first effects of declining economic activity was a drop in demand for oil, followed by a drop in global commodity prices. Although we have not seen significant oil sales in recent years due to sanctions, however, the fall in oil prices has made unforeseen revenues virtually unaffordable.”
He also acknowledged that the regime’s oil market slump has affected its other exports: “Another point to keep in mind is that although we do not sell much oil and have tried to rely on non-oil exports, still close to 40 percent of our total exports are oil products and its derivatives. From petrochemical products to other petroleum products. Falling oil prices will also lead to lower prices for these products.
“Putting these puzzle pieces together, it seems that Iran’s exports this year will decrease by about 30 percent, and the government must prepare itself to face the consequences.”
So as far as the regime is concerned, in the extreme economic suffocation and in the conditions where it clings to everything to survive and seeks a breathing space, it has no choice but to open a gap even in the Caribbean waters and in Latin America near the U.S. and another sanctioned country and take risks. This is a choice not between bad and worse, but between worse and the worst.
Counting on the US election
In addition to accepting the risk of coercion, the regime has included in its analysis the parameter that the United States will not react much to the regime’s actions, given the upcoming elections and the coronavirus crisis.
In this regard, Fouad Izadi said:
“The policy of maximum pressure on Iran inside the United States has also been seriously attacked, and given the upcoming US presidential election, if Democrats win the election, they have no choice but to change their policy of maximum pressure. And even if Trump wins again, there is no justification for continuing this policy against Iran because it does not achieve the desired results.”
Of course, this is not the first time that the regime is gone to the deep of the well with the rotten rope of this analysis. This regime’s expert while saying this, immediately added with fear:
“Officials should be careful not to give the wrong address to the United States with their comments. Our country’s officials must be very careful in expressing their views these days, and not pursue a policy of maximum pressure on Iran by making some false statements about the negotiations. Because Iran’s willingness to sit at the negotiating table gives the wrong address to the US administration that the policy of maximum pressure against Iran has worked.”
So far, violating, and circumventing sanctions in the oil deal with a country that is also under US sanctions will open the way for more international pressure on the regime. On the eve of the extension of the arms embargo and the possibility of activating the trigger mechanism, the regime does not have a card to play with. While its economic, political and international situation is more fragile than sending five oil tankers carrying 1.5 million liters of gasoline – with fear and anxiety – to Venezuela could solve any of its pains.