- Kuwait Times Extra
The issue of Iranians threatening to close down the Strait of Hormuz has been recurrent in local news in Gulf states as of late. The narrow strait, located at the very south of the Arabian Gulf provides passage to a large number of oil tankers and commercial shipment, making it of strategic importance globally.
For economic and commercial reasons, especially the fact that the world depends on Gulf exports that form around 40 percent of crude transported by sea, the Arabian Gulf is considered to be the center of global interaction; a field for political struggle and competitiveness between major powers, mainly the United States. This has transformed the Arabian Gulf into a very important water passage that the world simply cannot afford to have. Any country overlooking the Gulf does not have the right to block international trade or oil exports.
The political conflicts between Iran and the West have opened the way for each party to take every chance available to hurt the other, which includes placing economic sanctions, even potential military intervention. And while Iran has a clear disadvantage over its opponents in terms of power, Tehran often attempts to show that they are capable of facing any country. These attempts include repeated threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, which Tehran realizes as much as the world does that it is too important, globally.
However, the Gulf states should not take these threats for granted. The Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) countries are required to come up promptly with a strategy to protect their interests in the Arabian Gulf in the short and long term. According to recent reports, the United Arab Emirates has begun building oil pipes through Al-Fujairah, connecting with its ports at the Arab Sea, therefore avoiding the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is reportedly trying to find an alternative to protect its economic interests. While these efforts are important, they reflect the reality that Gulf states are working individually to face the potential common risk which require a common strategy.
The level of damage that Gulf states are going to suffer from should the Strait of Hormuz be closed, is not equal. Yet, Kuwait is probably going to suffer the most due to the lack of economically feasible alternatives. But doing nothing by depending on promises made by other countries that the strait will never be closed, is something that we cannot to afford.
Hopefully, the government will conduct serious studies to face challenges threatening our future oil exports, especially since oil revenues remain the only source of income. — Al-Rai
By Dr Yaqoub Al-Sharrah
Read by 1783