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memri
April 22, 2019 No.
8014

Iranian Regime Mouthpiece 'Kayhan' Calls For Targeting America's Economic Interests In The Region, Blocking Strait Of Hormuz And Red Sea To Saudi Oil Exports

The April 13, 2019 editorial of the daily Kayhan, which is close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called to bring Saudi Arabia's oil exports "down to zero" and thereby harm the U.S., in retaliation for the latter's designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Noting that America's designation of the IRGC is not a military move in essence, but rather an economic one, which has significant impact on Iran and on its ability to spread in the Middle East by means of the IRGC,[1] the editorial urged to punish the U.S. by targeting the economy of its ally Saudi Arabia. To this end, the daily recommended to formulate an effective plan that would be implemented within a year, with two goals: targeting companies in the region that have contracts with the U.S., and targeting Saudi Arabia's oil exports, which are America's "Achilles heel" in the region.

It should be noted that the author of the editorial, Sadollah Zarei, a member of Kayhan's editorial board, refrains from explicitly urging the Iranian forces, or Iran-backed militias, to carry out terror operations against Saudi Arabia to prevent it from exporting its oil through the Red Sea, the Bab El-Mandeb Strait or the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.  He does, however, hint at this, and imply that he infers Iran's ability to carry out such operations from statements by IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who is in charge of deploying Iran's special forces outside its borders, in which he agreed with Iranian President Rohani. The latter claimed that the U.S. moves against the Iranian economy would result in America's own economy coming to a halt. It seems that Zarei is deliberately blurring the nature of the terrorist operation for which he is calling in order to avoid harm to Iran's image and so that Iran will not have to bear the political or military cost of its involvement in this operation.

It should also be noted that, in July 2018, the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen fired missiles at Saudi oil tankers in the Bab El-Mandeb Strait, which caused Saudi Arabia to briefly suspend its oil shipments via that route.

The following are excerpts from the Kayhan editorial, which is titled "Bring the Saudi Oil Exports Down to Zero." [2]

Kayhan: We Understood That We Have The Ability To Bring Saudi Arabia's Oil Exports Down To Zero When [Qods Force Commander] Soleimani Agreed With President [Rohani]

"The inclusion of the IRGC in the list of terror organizations is not really a military-security move against the Islamic Republic [of Iran] or against the IRGC as the most important institution of the Iranian [armed] forces... In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, a Pentagon military source said, while expressing concerns about Trump's move, that 'the [U.S.] army has received no orders regarding military moves vis-à-vis the Iranian forces, and I must say that President [Trump's] move certainly does not mean war with Iran or the killing of Iranians.' The reason for this statement is very clear. America cannot risk the lives of 200,000 U.S. troops who are deployed on three sides of Iran, surrounded by revolutionary Muslims who support it...

"If we accept the fact that the move of the U.S. administration against the IRGC is just another in a series of economic moves against the Iranian nation and regime... we must implement our broad [capability] to threaten the economic interests of America and its partners, at the right time. America makes military threats and implements [them] in the economic domain, [so] we too must make security threats and carry them out by targeting the economic interests of America and its agents in the region. There are dozens of companies in various countries in our region that have contracts with America and are supported by its armed forces, as well as embassies that are managed by [U.S.] military personnel. They engage in a wide range of economic activities. We must stop these activities by means of a clear and effective plan, to be carried out within a year at most, that will bring the benefit that America [derives in the region] down to zero.

"Our second task is to take an economic step against the most important local player that depends on America, namely Saudi Arabia. While the Saudi regime is a cash cow for America and the West, it is also the Achilles heel of America's anti-Iranian and anti-Islamic policy in the region. It is time we listened to the statements of President [Rohani], who said publically that, [if] the Americans obstruct the Iranian economy, this will bring the economy of the bullying America itself to a halt, and we must act. Our activity must be based on bringing the Saudi oil exports down to zero. We know that at least 75% of the Saudi oil passes through the Red Sea, and the main beneficiaries of this export are the Europeans, that is, America's main partners in imposing sanctions on Iran. Since the Hormuz Strait forms the route through which oil is exported to our Asian partners, who oppose America's anti-Iran measures, stopping the oil exports via this strait can hurt countries [such as] Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and they seem to have prepared for this [eventuality].

"We understood that we have the ability to bring the Saudi oil exports down to zero when [IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem] Soleimani supported the statements of President [Rohani]. Everyone knows that the Qods Force does not have any mission in the Strait of Hormuz, and the same is true regarding the Red Sea and regarding Saudi Arabia's Western coast. All right, so we must not waste time. We must turn to this plan and implement it, namely bring Saudi oil exports down to zero, so that, in practice, the European and Arab sides will genuinely realize that their anti-Iran policy does them significant harm.

"We must realize that there is a big chance that, the minute the Saudi oil export begins to stop, the Europeans and Saudis will begin consulting with influential American elements in order to halt the anti-Iran activities, and the lobby groups in the U.S. will go into action as well.

"In order to accomplish this mission, we must not entrust it to the pro-Iran resistance forces in the region. That is unnecessary. Iran can use other effective security means to implement this plan, and it has done so in the past. An example is the expulsion of the American troops from Iraq, which was accomplished neither by Iranian troops nor by Iraqi resistance forces that support Iran. In the [Iraqi] arena, the security [noose] gradually tightened around the American forces. The political penetration of Iraqi forces allied with Iran grew from day to day during the formation of the [Iraqi] government, and within four years, the American military presence in Iran completely ended.

"Iran must decide. We must not allow America to issue a new anti-Iran [position] paper every few weeks, even if the actual impact is small. This [American] habit must stop. We can stop it with an initiative and without imposing any security costs on the [Iranian] state. By Allah, let us begin. The Saudi oil exports must go down to zero. We have a year."

 


[1] For MEMRI's assessment of the significance of the U.S. decision for Iran, see Inquiry & Analysis  No. 1449, The Trump Administration's Designation Of The IRGC As A Foreign Terror Organization – Goals And Impact, April 8, 2019.

[2] Kayhan (Iran), April 13, 2019.