Iran's Game of Thrones Intensifies - Will it Disrupt Iran's Oil?

Long knives getting sharpened in Iran, apparently.

Trump's new sanctions against Iranian government look set to bite very hard, and the subsequent political infighting within Iran's dictatorship to remain in power may get fairly bloody.

The question is, how much will the hard U.S. sanctions combined with Iranian government political machinations affect Iranian oil exports?

Putin has apparently thrown Iran under the bus, recognizing that Iran has already lost the game, and is siding with MBS / Saudis in enhancing Russia's clout within OPEC.

Putin is *NOT* exactly a nice guy, but he is no political dummy.  Tangle with him at your own risk.  Putin has already recognized that Iran's leadership is toast, ... stick a fork in it, it's done.

Russia will apparently be more than happy to run a fleet of buses repeatedly over Iranian oil production / exports and seize more control of Oil & Gas without actually subscribing to OPEC membership & rules.  Dang clever move.

 

Iran sentences president's brother to prison for corruption

 

Hossein Fereydoun was handed an unspecified prison term for corruption [File: Atta Kenare/ AFP]
Hossein Fereydoun was handed an unspecified prison term for corruption [File: Atta Kenare/ AFP]

A court in Iran has sentenced President Hassan Rouhani's younger brother to an unspecified jail term in a corruption case that supporters of the Iranian leader allege is politically motivated.

Hossein Fereydoun, who is also a close confidante of the president, has vowed to appeal the sentence, local media reported on Saturday.

"This person [Hossein Fereydoun] was found not guilty on some charges, while he was sentenced to prison on other accusations," Hamidreza Hosseini, a judiciary official, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA. 

The trial of Fereydoun, along with six co-defendants, began in February without the judiciary giving details of the charges. ...

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The Mullahs have been quite unpopular for quite some time. When you are willing to accept a 8th century lifestyle, traditional pressures might not have the outcome we'd wish. We certainly have a talent for making it worse in the region over time. The blowbacks have been horrendous. Saddam Iraq war 2 is an extreme example, but stuffing the Shah into power didn't turn out so well either.

Iran is quite a different thing than KSA/Kuwait/UAE/Qatar. Persia has thousands of years of civilization in it, with long runs as perhaps the top in the world. Few things will galvanize a country to support an horrible government like external pressures.

I do hope this ends well. In theory Iran is the closest thing we have to a natural partner in the region. But for the West to accept it, they have to give up their attitude to Israel. 

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18 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Long knives getting sharpened in Iran, apparently.

Trump's new sanctions against Iranian government look set to bite very hard, and the subsequent political infighting within Iran's dictatorship to remain in power may get fairly bloody.

The question is, how much will the hard U.S. sanctions combined with Iranian government political machinations affect Iranian oil exports?

Putin has apparently thrown Iran under the bus, recognizing that Iran has already lost the game, and is siding with MBS / Saudis in enhancing Russia's clout within OPEC.

Putin is *NOT* exactly a nice guy, but he is no political dummy.  Tangle with him at your own risk.  Putin has already recognized that Iran's leadership is toast, ... stick a fork in it, it's done. 

Russia will apparently be more than happy to run a fleet of buses repeatedly over Iranian oil production / exports and seize more control of Oil & Gas without actually subscribing to OPEC membership & rules.  Dang clever move. 

If we view the situation through a realpolitik lens, the collaboration of the US and Russia makes perfect sense: 
1)  Both the US and Russia need to keep China contained.  Controlling oil is one more tool to accomplish that. 
2)  Both the US and Russia would profit enormously from increased oil market share.
3)  Both the US and Russia can increase oil production if prices stay stable, where stable is defined as "$50ish to $80ish" - a stark contrast to the past "$20ish to $130ish, depending on the whims of a few dictators". 

Thus, the US and Russia have a common interest. 

The best way to accomplish all that is to diminish OPEC.  In the past, the world tolerated OPEC because there was no alternative.  OPEC regularly abused that fact; they have not been good neighbors.  Now that they're no longer needed, I suspect there will be no sympathy for them.  As new oil production comes online, the US and Russia could simply systematically destroy OPEC countries.  This will have a triple benefit:
1)  It stabilizes oil prices, allowing economies to invest with confidence.
2)  It redirects wealth back to domestic economies
3)  It eliminates a major source of terrorist funding

#3 is bigger than it first appears.  Recall that Islam has spent its entire existence invading foreign countries, decimating populations, and enslaving people.  The average Western citizen has forgotten this, but the people calling the shots likely have not.  The Eastern Europeans and Russians who've fought them for centuries certainly haven't forgotten. 

Oddly enough, systematic destruction seems to be what's happening: Iraq, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, and Iran have all been targeted.  Countries where oil production remains strong (Iraq, Saudi Arabia) find themselves in a financial vise, while other OPEC members find their local corruption discourages investment.  One by one, OPEC members are finding themselves stripped of wealth, power, and influence. 

Of course, one could argue that the US and Russia have no coordinated plan.  Venezuela and Saudi Arabia were failing financially on their own, and Africa has always been a corrupt mess.  Still, intervention is within the realm of possibility.  It wouldn't be surprising if the US and Russia were gently nudging these countries to the edge, finally pushing them off a cliff when they're no longer useful. 

Would a lot of OPEC citizens die in the process?  Yes.
Would the rest of the world care?  No.
Would hastening the demise of OPEC make the world, on average, a better place?  Definitely.
Would world leaders and intelligence agencies have ethical concerns about this?  Doubtful. 

Whatever the case, this is going to be entertaining. 

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