Having threatened to shoot itself in the foot by closing the Strait of Hormuz, and having heard the US 5th Fleet reply that “it’s just not going to happen,” cooler heads are prevailing, for now, in the Islamic Republic:
Iranian officials insist that the U.A.E. pipeline and others that are being constructed in the region will not lessen the strategic importance of the Hormuz Strait. But they have raised the issue repeatedly, which analysts say is a sign that they are nervous about it.
And Iran — which has enjoyed record oil profits over the past five years but is faced with a dwindling number of oil customers — relies on the Hormuz Strait as the departure gate for its biggest client: China.
“We would be committing economical suicide by closing off the Hormuz Strait,” said an Iranian Oil Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “Oil money is our only income, so we would be spectacularly shooting ourselves in the foot by doing that.”
Ahmad Bakhshayesh Ardestani, a political scientist running for parliament from the camp of hard-line clerics and commanders opposing Ahmadinejad, said it is “good politics” for Iran to respond to U.S. threats with threats of its own.
“But our threat will not be realized,” Ardestani said. “We are just responding to the U.S., nothing more.”
Domestic politics, in other words. Nothing to see here, move along.
Well, perhaps. But the rational actor theory has its critics.