On Iran

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Iran to sell oil for a 30% premium
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Iran to sell oil for a 30% premium

Given the U.S.’s deployment earlier this month of an aircraft carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf and comments that it may send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to deal with any untoward action by Iran, Tehran has been busy trying to build safety buffers through its allies. Simon Watkins writes in Oil Price that having put in place a strategy to try to exploit existing divisions between the U.S. and Europe, Iran has now reached an agreement with the Federal Government of Iraq in Baghdad to expand co-operation between the two countries in the economically vital oil sector, including, critically, the sale of Iranian oil under the guise of Iraqi oil. This trick was first used when the last full-scale international sanctions were ramped up in 2012 but the scope of the new deal far outstrips that arrangement. On the face of it, the most obvious signal of this is the plan announced by National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) director, Ramin Gholampour Dezfouli, last week for the state oil giant to open a representative office in Baghdad. The official line from Iraq’s Oil Ministry is that: “The role of [the representative] office will be limited to technical and engineering services, such as establishing pipelines and engineering equipment, which Iraq favours given their very low prices...It will not involve oil trade.” Oil Ministry spokesman, Hamza Jawahiri, however, did say that the office would also allow for joint organisational work to be done on the 12 fields that Iran shares with Iraq – some of the world’s largest oil reservoirs – and that this type of co-operation is not strictly prohibited under the sanctions that the U.S. re-imposed on Iran late last year.

Don’t Fight Iran
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Don’t Fight Iran

Sometimes it’s important to write a column about something you’re pretty sure isn’t going to happen, Ross Douthat writes in The New York Times. In this case, that thing is war with Iran, which Donald Trump clearly doesn’t want, and which he will therefore probably avoid. But since the president’s current foreign policy is making war more likely, it’s still worth saying clearly that it would be a terrible idea for the United States to enter into a serious armed conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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