Obama Increases Pressure on Iran

Article Summary
Following the Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, the United States has sent a letter to Tehran by no less than four separate diplomatic channels. As if to underscore its point, it has also sent two aircraft carriers to join the USS Stennis in the Persian Gulf. The back-and-forth between the two states is likely to continue, as neither side is able to back down, notes Rajeh el-Khoury.

After less than a week, the bulk of attention was no longer drawn to Iran's muscle-flexing naval exercises and its [boastful threats] to close the Strait of Hormuz. The focus is now on the mysterious letter said to be sent by President Barack Obama to Tehran.

The content of this [letter] has not yet been revealed. However, it has been said that it was sent in an attempt to appease the tensions in the Strait of Hormuz. Apparently, the US administration has deliberately delivered the message by way of four diplomatic channels, which are meant to serve as witnesses to the United States’ diplomatic warnings against Iran's threats to close the vital Strait - through which tankers carry, every day, one third of all oil traded worldwide.

One copy of the letter was handed by the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to her [Iranian] counterpart, Mohamed Khazaee.  A second copy was delivered by the Swiss Ambassador; a third copy of the letter went to Tehran via [Iraqi] President Jalal Talabani; and the fourth copy was delivered by [Turkish Foreign Minister] Ahmet Davutoglu during his visit to Iran.

The content of the message is clear. It can be determined by the [public] American responses to Iranian threats to close the strait: "This is not acceptable. Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated."

This bellicose warning was delivered to Iranians through diplomatic channels, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation. However, the US sent a more powerful message on January 2, 2012 when the American aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, along with a cruiser and a destroyer carrying 80 jet fighters, joined its counterpart the USS Stennis in the Gulf region.

Although Washington has been keen to confirm that it is not in the process of consolidating its military forces in the Gulf, the third aircraft carrier USS Lincoln will soon arrive to the area. Three aircraft carriers in one region: What could be a more obvious [indication] of the highest state of readiness for war?

The US warnings were delivered to Iran, verbally and by sea. Obama can no longer back down in the face of Tehran, on the eve of the [US presidential] elections. Tehran, on the other hand, will not crumble under the weight of economic sanctions. The Hormuz threat has raised the prices of oil, thus improving Iranian revenues. In light of this fact, Teheran's declaration of its willingness to discuss any issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency will not come as a surprise. The tit-for-tat game [between Iran and the United States] has been brought out in the open.

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