War With Iran: Here's How the Islamic Republic Could Cut Off the World's Oil

Iranian marine soldiers wave to the camera from a motor boat in the Sea of Oman during the third day of joint Iran, Russia and China naval war games in Chabahar port, at the Sea of Oman, Iran, December 29, 2019. Mohsen Ataei/Fars news agency/WANA (West As
August 23, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Middle East Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: IranStraits Of HormuzIsraelHezbollahLebanon

War With Iran: Here's How the Islamic Republic Could Cut Off the World's Oil

Iran would be banking on forcing the United States to overstretch its commitments, and create political and strategic costs the American people may not be willing to bear.

Once again, however, blockading Hormuz proves an ineffective move if the United States is willing to counter Iran’s provocations. This means Iran is more likely to respond with low-intensity, deniable warfare by utilizing cyberwarfare its deep roster of militias and terrorist groups. Be it Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Gaza’s Hamas, or Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, the Ayatollah is likely to call upon these players long before seriously considering closing the Strait of Hormuz. Hezbollah, in particular, is among the most well-connected of terrorist groups in the world, possessing links with Central and South American drug cartels. A worst-case scenario would involve Hezbollah exploiting these connections to carry out terrorism on American soil. At the very least, it can be expected that Iranian-backed militias like the PMU can be used to attack U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria as the anti-ISIL campaign continues. This would force the United States/coalition to contemplate escalating their involvement in the multiple civil wars in the region, or, to their obvious detriment, refrain from retaliation.


Barring further developments, this latest threat from Tehran to close the Strait of Hormuz will likely pass without incident. It will, however, create the potential for close encounters between U.S. and Iranian naval forces in the region, leaving open a window of heightened risk of miscalculation. Furthermore, the likelihood of a war between Hezbollah and possibly Iran continues to grow by the day. If or when that war happens, the United States and the coalition will find it difficult to stay out of the line of fire.

Edward Chang is a freelance defense, military, and foreign-policy writer. His writing has appeared in the National Interest and War Is Boring.

This first appeared in 2018.

Image: West Asia News Agency via Reuters.