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Iran countersanctions to pull the trigger on EU economy?
On April 11, 2012, Germany also saw its name on the list of the European states to which Iran halted its oil exports with Tehran signaling now to Italy as next in line for these countersanctions.
The list, of course, has seen big names like Britain and France and more recently Spain and the debt stricken Greece. This all happens as some of these countries were preparing themselves to replace imports of oil from Iran with those from other oil producing countries which, by the way, often unfoundedly boast about their “unlimited” oil production capacity. Iran has stopped oil imports to these EU states before they can even begin the ban on Iran oil sector or to ponder how they are going to repalce Tehran in their energy basket. It is needless to mention the Tehran act is in reaction to first being banned by the EU from trading with the bloc’s member states and its assets being frozen at Iran Central Bank branches located within the EU.
The game the US began against Tehran of sanctioning anything and everything that has to do with Iran since three decades ago found new dimensions when it was joined by Europe. Sanctions that have, honestly speaking, targeted the civilian population in Iran more than anyone or anything else. Who would not agree, for instance, to the fact that banning the sales of civilian airliners or even their spare parts to Iran affects anyone other than ordinary people?!
Now, if one talks of oil sanctions against any one country in the US, it will be of no surprise since many examples can be found where Washington has imposed a sanction(s) of one type or another on a country. In the case of the oil sanctions against Iran, one might also think that, after all, America itself is an oil producer, hence, banning Iran oil, however hard to explain to people at the gas pumps, might be justifiable under political terms.
But when there is talk of Europe banning Iran trade and oil, especially at a hard economic time like today, a big question mark appears above everyone’s head that how are they (EU states) going to deal with that? Does Europe produce enough oil? Are the Europeans, whose countries were, ironically, already defaulting on their oil payments to Iran ready to bear more economic difficulties? Are people in Europe seriously as prepared as their Iranian counterparts who have had to live under different US and international sanctions for almost 3 decades? To what extent do they see themselves as responsible for the decisions their respective governments make? To what extent do they honestly see their officials having to go through the same difficulties predictably arising from acts like putting bans on Iran?
The fact of the matter is that the trade situation in Europe after the collapse of the US economy in 2008 was already doing badly enough without the help of Iran’s countersanctions!
As for the Iranians, the news of their country being banned does not have a major punch, if any at all, given they have heard such stories many times before. They are used to finding a way to deal with sanctions one way or another. However, it will only make them even more suspicious of countries and leaders who claim to be the flag bearer’s of human rights. Iranians may well ask whether they should believe the messages of good will they get from some of these leaders on the occasion of the Persian New Year as sincere or to believe that even some of their basic civil rights, such as travelling in new passenger aircraft, are being tampered with as a result of the sanctions imposed on them, endorsed by the same leaders as a fact.
Truly, sanctions by the EU were not a proper response to Iran that has kindly helped many of the bloc's countries in their oil payments to Tehran at their, especially, recent hard times.
Countersanctions will take toll in the US as well. To confirm this, who is better than President Barack Obama himself who has already blamed the rising fuel prices on the Iranian oil sanctions’ issue and the Tehran move to halt supplies to some European states? Besides affecting prices negatively at the gas pumps, the issue is probably going to be a major player in determining the fate of Obama’s re-election bid. He has had to deal with various issues at the national and international level during his tenure and more difficulty, over Iran oil sanctions is undoubtedly the last thing his campaign needs.
What needs to be cautiously observed from this point on is whether it was/is all worth it to go through as well as cause so many hardships for all sides simply under the absolutely false assumption that an Iranian nuclear energy program may, and just may, include a military aspect which can potentially be a threat to Israel. Also, the West’s “unquestionable” support for Israel will begin to be questioned, especially in Europe, once the countersanctions and their consequences sink in.
Europeans began criticizing their governments for tying their economies to that of Washington when they saw it collapsed a couple of years ago, the effects of which can still be seen and felt almost everywhere in the continent.
But will they ever forgive their officials for not wanting to break away from the Washington policies for once and for slipping the chance to salvage their ailing economies by losing Iran and closing this window of opportunity?
By this summer, there will certainly be clear answers to these questions.