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tv   Inside Story 2019 Ep 119  Al Jazeera  April 30, 2019 2:32pm-3:02pm +03

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crown prince will now become empress. algeria's former prime minister is appearing in court as part of a corruption probe according to local media reports. is being investigated over allegations of misusing public funds he's one of many senior officials including the finance minister and several billionaires who are facing judicial investigations earlier this month long time president step down under pressure from demonstrators and the military. the catholic church is to resume sunday mass on may the fifth after a break since easter attacks the archbishop of columbus spoke earlier of his dissatisfaction with the investigation so far right there is the headlines coming up next it's inside story.
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it's a pressure iran has made before but this time the stakes are higher the u.s. strangling iran's oil exports teheran's threatening to shut off the strait of hormuz one of the world's most important shipping lanes but one of the consequences not just for iran but the region and the global oil markets this is inside story. hello and welcome to inside story i'm kemal santa maria when you think of important waterways in the world you probably think of places like the sewers or the panama canal is vital manmade shipping lanes which transformed global trade but perhaps
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just as important is the strait of hormuz a choke point as it's known through which twenty percent of the world's oil is carried by tank is now the united states decision to impose further economic sanctions on iran has prompted threats from teheran to close this strategic waterway in today's washington will end all the waivers granted to eight countries including the likes of china and india that import iranian oil the u.s. government says it's part of its maximum pressure campaign to stop iran from destabilizing the region so how iran's top general has responded he said we don't want to close the strait of hormuz but if the hostility of enemies increases we will be able to do so also if our oil does not go through the strait other countries oil will certainly not cross the strait either. so let's have a look at the significance of the strait in some detail because while iran presents itself as a gatekeeper if you like there are a lot more players involved the strait of hormuz is the only sea route in and out
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of the gulf that tells you immediately why it is so important and if we zoom in down there and actually place a a ruler over the top of it using the tip of the united arab emirates as a starting point you'll see that in any direction it's certainly nothing more than one hundred kilometers before you hit land be at the iranian mainland there or one of these islands over here now in this case fifty six kilometers of water sounds like a decent amount of space but the actual shipping lanes are only three kilometers wide in each direction and it was in the first half of twenty eighteen in fact that seventeen point four million barrels of oil a day went through those lanes around a fifth of the world's oil consumption coming from places like iran obviously but up here in iraq and in kuwait as well further down you've got cutler of course which is the largest exporter of l.n.g. liquefied natural gas in the world its exporters have to go through the straits as well you go down into the united arab emirates into dubai and here you've got jebel
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ali the largest port in the middle east which handles up to nineteen and a half million shipping containers a year they all go through the strait of hormuz and don't forget as well if we come further west again based here in bahrain in this little bay here you've got the u.s. fifth fleet america's naval presence in the gulf which can be deployed in the case of any heightened tensions. i so let's introduce our panel tuesday starting in tehran with mohamed islam who is a political research or and columnist in london minissha taki in an independent oil and energy consultant and on skype from lancaster in the u.k. it is simon mobile and senior lecturer in international studies at and i guess the university gentleman thank you time welcome to inside story mohammed islam i'm going to start with you in tehran and i do want to start out by pointing out that this is not a new threat iran has made the threat before most notably i think it was two
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thousand and eight and two thousand and twelve as well in your view what is different this time what makes it more crucial more important or as i said at the start of the show the stakes being higher look at first i want to mention there it is not only in politics where it is also an experience for iran because the iranian government has the experience of putting some restriction on controlling to a certain form is doing to iran iraq war in one thousand nine hundred s. so this time by as the as a consequence of u.s. policy and quitting. the iranian government is thinking about this decision as a means of. i mean. i think sending the message to it it to do now to states that this is this time it would be really different for rangers but it's a provocative move in it and
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a retaliatory move as well i wonder about what it really achieves other than showing iran's strength and iran's importance in the region what does it really achieve no one no one really wins out of it not in the region they don't. ok you know it would not be for sure it would not be the first step by the iranian government it would be the second step step after. step by the united states if the united states could not achieve their goal through. put iranian export through zero day rain and would not close the door close the gateway but if they are really serious and putting restrictions on iranian export it would be the next step the second a step four innings so the u.n. is not want to close the gate. some of my bonnets bring you into the conversation
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now first of all your thoughts on whether this actually could happen this time as we've discussed already it's happened before it's been threatened in more recent history this time around. i think that if we look over over history recent history and less recent history we know that iran does this when it feels like it's being backed into a corner when it feels like it has very little other alternatives as a means of articulating its position as a show of strength so given that and looking at history it seems unlikely that iran would do that this time but of course we can never say never we've got an increasingly billet durant an increasingly anti a rainy and president in the white house and that has had an impact i think it has pushed iran to the margins it has pushed iran from from the center of regional politics and it's created a sort of isolationist sentiment so things have changed the context has changed but i think that the outcome of whether iran will close the straits i can't see it
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happening to be honest but that doesn't rule it out just on a. sort of a mechanic side of things and maybe i might have to ask one of our other guests as well but have we we keep using this phrase iran would close the strait of hormuz how do you close the strait of hormuz out here. that. there's a number of different ways and and i think it depends on how seriously the iranians wanted to close it and the most obvious is perhaps mining the strait putting putting seaborne mines that would obviously have a pretty damaging impact if any of the large freighters were to were to hit it less obvious perhaps would be to have boats patrolling the straits potentially shooting and shooting some type of torpedo or weaponry at at these freighters if iran was serious about closing or now there's a deterrent dimension i guess to to any closure efforts the language is a deterrent but then if iran was to actually go ahead and close it you have
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different different type policies of closure i guess depending on how serious around wasn't depending on what iran wanted to achieve from disclosure just before i bring in minissha talking just stay there for me a minute i just want to ask mohamed in tehran quickly your thoughts quickly on on how you think iran would actually enact this if it did you know for iran it is not required to close all the gateway as a as a mentioned when we see the experience of iran during the your honor were they didn't close the all this rate of hormones first they put some restrictions for the tankers to carquest this trade so i don't think that iran would have any plan to close the gateway you know moments ago because you know after all iran would think about their plan to reopen the strait so. if they iran would be in a point to really put recessions under spray to foremost to davao not to close it
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at in a moment's. well we should talk in london as our oil expert let's bring him in this is central obviously the effect on the oil markets. already there are a number of countries who will stop receiving iranian oil the united states says it will be fine will keep the market supplied they'll be no gap do you agree with that or is that just almost the symbolic nature of something like this potentially happening which is enough to spook the markets well the united states is playing there willy is this pseudo only superpower in the world so it can say and do at least things present from what he can do he says whatever but in practice iranian oil exports have not seen as in the past in two thousand and eight and twelve and so on prison ahmadinejad at that time there was sanctions by either a p n's and united nations as well as the united states and you didn't manage to export its oil
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about a million and million and a half for ways and means so it would be the same thing this time plus the fact that the europeans have not put sanctions on iran mind you with their oil companies you are going to oil companies again because of this strong arm twisting by you know at the states they are read their freight to purchase iranian oil although their governments tell the european government tell them go ahead and do but they are afraid because united states might put. pressure on them or would not allow him to stop their operations in the united states and so on and it's really not going to fix they don't know there isn't that a day but i don't think it will set a yes go ahead as it was yet isn't that the difference is some that the u.s. is undeniably putting more pressure on on the oil markets on the oil exports and sort of that there's a threat in the background as well that oh well we'll see what happens here and we might have to do more and who knows what more is after that. but it is this is
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a political question that the world and the european union which is telling its oil companies go ahead and do not listen to the united states threaten threats because you are doing illegal trade buying oil from iran but they are afraid of doing it it depends on how far this wanted to call pressure from the u.s. and there is distance in europe would go and then we should also be realistic that other countries india china and others who do import iranian oil south korea are very much and they would observe the united states pressure much more lenient deal more quickly and but one would think that maybe china and india and others might resist and there is distance would depend on other trades that they are having with iran and the negotiations that they have all the time now in the united states and chinese international trade negotiation they might use it on as
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a point given take so be all given that this is all political question on that and i'm no expert on politics but i think that these countries will come out of their way as they are doing behind the scenes diplomatically and protesting they are protesting to the united states to india and that look we have these refineries the we need oil and we have had our refineries designed for iranian crude in madras refinery here and there for decades now you want us to change it will be costly for us etc etc it is that political pressure and that they would stand against a us many germans on this issue which i'm no expert but i think they will go out and start protesting and may want to listen just condi and quiet the the chinese on one side as well. and that is the you know president trump wants to have the price of oil to be cheap yeah because the petrol in gasoline is. it states the beach is
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sort of the he would be a popular yeah of course the price goes up internationally there is a domestic prices would also go up it is his doing he says that i'm telling opec to produce more and i'm not sure that in spite of the strong arm and the good relations between saudi arabia the united states and saudi arabia would close and in the distant images that you see in the let's you know i'm going to jump in marilyn are deterministic i want to bring in simon at this point because as you pointed out i mean you're our oil expert simon is our international relations expert and maybe you can expand a bit more on what men are saying that because they made a really good point that this goes well beyond the region all those countries are listed earlier on and kuwait and qatar and all of this it all those customers which iran had how do you feel they will react when i stand up for iran with they insert themselves into this what is essentially
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a us iran battle i think what we've got to do is contextualize each and every one of these relationships so not only do we need to look at the relationship that iran has with india with russia with turkey with china with south korea etc but we also have to look at those relationships with the united states so india's relationship with the u.s. china's relationship etc and it's those relationships the nature of those relationships and the quality of them the strength of them if you will that will determine the extent to which those states will push back against any u.s. efforts to to try and create a position vision of iraq and so if there is some type of friction enough in that relationship say the the indian position modi's position with regard to the u.s. isn't quite honest same page of trump that it could well be that india pushes back and says no we will not do this we want to we want to continue with our
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infrastructural developments filter. around iranian oil and we don't want to be pushed around by the west and that's the same with all the you've got all of the states that iran is trading with they all have their own relationships not only with iran but with the u.s. and other states as well so we need to look at me to contextualize each of these relationships and by doing that we've been are able to see the extant to which those states might push back against the u.s. gosh it's really complex isn't it i want to bring things back to iran a little bit let's do this with mohammed in teheran i want to get a feel from you of the iranian people what they think about all of this because we characterize it as a battle between two governments but in the end it would be the iranian people who would feel the effects now let's play this out here let's say that iran takes some sort of action it retaliates it closes the straits of hormuz tell us about the effect on iran the iranian people the iranian economy ok first of all let me say something else for iranian mindsets closing to sort of foremost it is
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not an instrument in terms of economy for power thieves it is their reaction to a kind of community earthwards by some powers in the region over electing to b.b. i mean do you really think netanyahu in israel and. amount of support from donald trump for netanyahu and also some signs in saudi arabia iranian government. talking about closing this sort of hormones maybe a response to some sound years of targeting iran attacking iran. by by some people by some garment into a region with the sport of the united states so for the iranian people it's also the same you know that we're not in states garments put his name on the least of terrorist groups also like this but at the same time we saw
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a lot of the iranian oppositions i mean political to the governments they were supporting i.r.g.c. it was really interesting that lots of them some of them were also some of the are even now in the jane but they have treated it in support of i r g c and they said that this is a national army and united states cannot put in national army in elease dr scopes on for lack of so i think if the americans change the situation in a way that the iranian government would practically think about closing the gateway it will have the support from the iranian people because trump showed to data it is not also only true change of garments and also the missa pompous secretary of state of finance a said that these sanctions would have negative effects on the a life of ordinary people it means that we are putting sanctions also on the iranian people all the
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people the whole concern in the situation they were any and you have concerns about any confrontation the potential for confrontation regardless of what action iran takes you made a very good point that the i.r.g.c. the iranian revolutionary guard has been designated a terrorist organization by the united states as i pointed out you've got the fifth fleet there as well it seems that there's you know there's almost a platform there for there to be problems in the gulf itself in the in the waters of the gulf. yeah you know by a by the means of my own as a council of this decision their risk of some kind of military confrontation is now hard and it is because of the u.s. decision so yes it is real practical fracture if you put the army off the one which is controlling to certain forms you can i should i should mention that the assert our foremost is under the control of our g.c.
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navy not did not a national army so. any confrontation between do as possible. military persons and. persons would be. a competition between two groups that are it is a native as terrorist group by all due to governments because you know that the iranian parliament also puts. american. officers here in the persian gulf as this or a school. when we should talk and let's bring your economic mind back into this a lot of what we are discussing is all in hypotheticals of what could happen if the strait of hormuz was closed when iranian oil exports are banned completely but take me through the process of what you think could happen the effect on as i was asking mohamed the iranian economy but the gulf region as well which could be paralyzed by the straits being close and then the wider global oil markets as well. well the
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global oligarch at the news in your own terminology will become. in there when we fall into a disarray as you mentioned the order of magnitude seven hundred eighteen million barrels per day or oil going into the international supply chain suddenly stopping and disappearing out of the hundred million or ninety million barrels per day oil or out as the more important out of them a sixty five million barrels per day traded or oil that is very significant nothing can replace it i have been reading that here and that is talk about the pipelines crossing across saudi arabia pipelines in the united arab emirates which go and bypass the strait of hormuz but there will be as for example maybe one ona one point four one point three million barrels per day for in one case in saudi arabia going to yen would generate seaports are something like four and a half million barrels per day the capacity as in probably day what is available
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maybe have a stream be done by respect it and the iraq pipeline going through turkey is not operational in mexico would be four hundred thousand barrels per day so there is in fact no other way to get this or doubt and it is not replaceable the price the horde would shoot in the sky honestly it is not a thing that going can talk about it ok some oil sellers oil company individuals and so on my profits on a short ten races but i think the whole economy in the old there's the threat of collapse there is for example in the international energy agency and they agency of the industrialized world they have a system in place for emergency rationing in case of destructions like this but that is limited and the planned emergency plan distribution and so on it is only for the industrial company in japan australia and europe and united states and canada and they can any priest say about ten twelve million barrels per day for
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about. months and then out of the strategic reserves out of the commercial visitors and then in the second month program the third month will be a fire in within six months there are strategic reserves can only give about one million two million barrels per day or to india's industrialized countries whereas you have the rest of the world outside is this here of the far east door you see the country the nicest all the developing countries asia latin america and africa and so on india there would be hungry for oil you know and there it is just unthinkable i can't really think of how it is we just shouldn't happen it can happen ok and you've led nicely to my final point because i just starting to run down the clock it strikes me that the three of you the four of us effectively have mapped it all out and presumably people in much higher positions than us of map this out to and yet we still seem to be stumbling towards some sort of
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confrontation or escalation simon live on what is the best way out of a situation like that given the u.s. really doesn't want to play ball doesn't want to negotiate what in your opinion is the way out diplomacy but then again i would say that being a director of a peace institute diplomacy seems to be the only way out of the types of issues but but this is what is happening this what we're seeing with this current crisis is a consequence of diplomatic channels being shut down and and all avenues for diplomatic dialogue and dialogue generally being shut down in the u.s. with regard to iran and as a consequence it's back to run into a position where it's it seems unable to actually facilitate any type of other movements than to a result of this type of defensive posturing now i don't think it will happen i think the state the stakes are too high for everyone involved and there will be some type of creative diplomatic solution perhaps the omanis my to some type of
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mediator reroll or something like now. but this is what happens when you start to put the squeeze on the state and you start to attack the institutions of the state by prescribing them a terrorist entities and it really is a worrying situation when diplomatic avenues have been squeezed at this point and it creates a climate a climate where any kind of situation any type of action for an old matter of different actors could provoke something whether this is a desire it's consequence or not such heightened tensions mean good actions can be misconstrued means that certain things can be can become compostable elements stakes are incredibly high and it's been really interesting talking to the three of you about it mohamed a family manisha thakor in and simon made on thank you for joining us and thank you as well for watching plenty more for you online this episode or other third out of the red dot com in the showbiz section we're on facebook at facebook dot com face
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