The Address | Benghazi – Libya
WASHINGTON – The current standoff between the United States and Iran over oil exports is linked the crisis in Libya, according to Debkafile, an Israeli military intelligence website based in Jerusalem.
The administration of Donald Trump has not backed off from its decision to cancel the oil embargo exemptions granted to eight of Iran’s biggest oil importers, including China, India and South Korea.
On Sunday, April 28, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Gen. Mohammed Bagheri said: “We are not after closing the Strait of Hormuz. If our oil does not go through the strait, other countries’ oil will certainly not cross the strait too.”
Bagheri was echoing supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and Guards Navy chief Rear Adm. Alireza Tangsiri.
DEBKAfile’s sources report that the cancellation of the waivers will slash Iran’s oil sales down from 1.1m barrels per day to half a million. But that’s just for starters. The next round of penalties aims to lower the figure to zero.
No one in Washington or the Middle East expects the Iranians to take the loss of their primary source of income lying down. And so the US is making plans accordingly.
On Saturday, April 27, US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie stated: “The United States would deploy the necessary resources to counter any dangerous actions by Iran.”
The US administration is in full-flight of an effort to replace Iranian oil with alternative energy supplies to the world markets while holding oil prices down from flying out of control.
Even the partial closure of the two energy choke points for exported Gulf oil – at the Strait of Hormuz or the Bab-el-Mandeb entrance to the Red Sea – is liable to send oil prices shooting up. For instance, each added dollar on the world energy market adds $4bn of extra revenue to the coffers of the Russian government, which is itself under US sanction.
Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Gulf nations are currently in no position to raise output to cover the loss from Iran – mainly because of their commitments to OPEC and Moscow.
The Trump administration therefore cast about for a regular, preferably stable, source for at least half a million barrels of all a day to cover the shortfall.
To find a solution to this, Debkafile reports, the Trump administration turned to Libya, particularly General Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
Trump and his advisers reckon that LNA, which already controls Libya’s eastern and southern oil fields, is capable of also seizing its main oil terminals at Ras Lanuf and Es Sidr on the Mediterranean.
Debkafile believes this the reason why the Trump administration decided to signal its support for LNA and its ongoing military operation to liberate Tripoli, via a phone call between Trump himself and Field Marshal Haftar.