Saturday (May 23rd): Iranian & Venezuelan TurmOil

Hassan Rouhani

Name? Hassan Rouhani

Westphalian identity? Iranian

Age? 71

Why is he in the news? Iranian oil tankers carrying 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate to Venezuela are approaching the Carribean Sea. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned the US not to interfere despite a senior US official stating that they are considering stopping it. 

Why do we care? Because 2020 began with speculations we were about to see World War III emerge from US-Iranian tensions. The oil tanker heading into the Carribean doesn’t necessarily carry the threat of war, however, there exists the chance that the US and Iranian militaries could come in direct conflict (much closer to the U.S. than ever anticipated). 

Why should you care? President Hassan Rouhani said if the US causes the tanker any trouble, “they will also be in trouble”. A skirmish between the US and Iran in the middle of the Carribean Sea not only further sours their relations, but displays the US as the enemy to Venezuelans for interfering with a much needed delivery. 

Who else cares? President Maduro is ordering his military to escort the Iranian tankers once they reach Venezuela’s economic zone. Maduro is hoping this delivery comes through unharmed as he needs the resources and also wants to form a tighter relationship with Iran over the US. 

Any further comments? The tanker represents US, Iranian, and Venezuelan self-interests all at once. First, the US does not want Venezuela, trading with Iran, a great adversary. Next, Iran wishes to strengthen ties with Venezuela. Finally, Maduro is looking for allies and is in desperate need of resources to prove his legitimacy as a leader who can provide for his people (geopolitically as well as physically). All in all, Venezuelan-Iranian relations spells a bad situation for the US, threatening its influence and position on the world stage (including its own backyard…).