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An article by Kevin Owen
Stress in the Strait: ‘Any false move can lead to catastrophe’

As the closure of Strait of Hormuz would likely suit the interests neither of the US nor of Iran, the editor of Consortium News, Robert Parry, believes the US is pushing for a large-scale war against Tehran.

1 January 2012

Iran, Hormuz: An Iranian Army soldier stands guard on a military speed boat, passing by a submarine during the "Velayat-90" navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on December 28, 2011 (AFP Photo / Ali Mohammadi)

There has been a propaganda campaign in the United States, very similar to what he saw before the invasion of Iraq,” he told RT. “The major news organizations have been hyping up threats about Iran. We’ve seen questionable allegations be given a great deal of weight here in the United States.”

With Republican presidential candidates making some aggressive noises and voicing their support for a war with Iran, President Barack Obama is under a great deal of pressure not to be seen as too soft, Parry notes.

During a televised candidates’ debate Newt Gingrich said that the US should seek regime change in Iran and should bomb Iran’s facilities to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power.

Parry stresses that this kind of climate can lead to a situation where politicians are not willing to compromise. Meanwhile, on the Iranian side there is also a lot pressure from political and economic problems and strained relations with Israel, he adds, before concluding that in a situation where there are so many “combustible elements” any false move or provocation can lead to catastrophe.

The research director at the National Iranian American Council Reza Marashi believes it is the long diplomatic impasse between Washington and Tehran that can lead to an escalation of the conflict.

He explained to RT that neither side is looking for war right now. “You have a president in the United States that is up for re-election and you have an Iranian government that is increasingly unpopular at home.”

Closing the Strait of Hormuz for the Iranian government would be the equivalent of cutting off its nose to spite its face,” Marashi added.

The main stumbling block in this situation, he argues, is the fact that Tehran and Washington have not been communicating for more than three decades. “When you don’t have direct channels of communication, it increases the likelihood of miscalculations and misperceptions and increases the likelihood that you can take actions that might not be in accordance even with your own interests.”

As the two countries have “an institutionalized enmity” conflict can spiral out of control as there are no levers to release pressure through diplomatic measures, he concludes.

Kevin Owen
Russia Today, 31 décembre 2011.