While the Syrian government was shamelessly slaughtering its own citizens it has needed to divert attention toward replenishing its dwindling coffers these past weeks, in order to find other foreign buyers for its oil. Europe's effective oil embargo of Syrian oil has severely curtailed its oil exports and consequent essential revenue flows ("Europe's Oil Embargo Leaves Syria Urgently Seeking New Customers" New York Times 09.27.11).
Syria's oil exports are not enormous, some 100,000 barrels/day bur nearly all of which had been destined for European buyers. Yet oil provides an earnings stream essential to an economy in turmoil by months of political upheaval and essential to maintaining the regimes grip on power.
Significantly, since the embargo was under discussion and then put into effect last month the price of oil has been escalating "downwards" by some $10 per barrel (for Brent Crude). Hardly the reaction we have been conditioned to believe, that when oil supply is curtailed, prices will go up.
Well not in this market. There is adequate oil from traditional suppliers and new sources throughout the world especially the Americas (Please see "Extra, Extra! Wall Street Journal and New York Times Finally Catch Up, Report "Peak Oil" Theory is Bogus" 09.22.11). This combined with a slowing world economy is turning the oil market from a condition of manipulated shortage (read OPEC) to a condition of oversupply.
All of which now raises the question, if effective with Syria, why not Iran. Just days ago at the UN Session in New York the world was presented with the irrational fulminations and vituperative rant of Iran's President Ahmadinejad before a near empty chamber of the UN's General Assembly. Never has it become clearer that ceding the ability to make and control nuclear weapons to the likes of Ahmadinejad and his fanatical ilk would be comparable to entrusting Adolf Hitler and his Wehrmacht with nuclear armaments.
The Iranian people are under a regime of subjugation as harsh as that of Syria. Popular demonstrations and movements for greater freedoms are put down as ruthlessly as those in Syria. This, to the point that Iran's agents have been acting as mentors to Syrian Security forces teaching them the deadly tricks on how to crush popular demonstrations with the likes of strategically placed snipers and other murderous responses to peaceful acts of civil disobedience seeking respect for personal freedoms.
Given Europe's bold embargo of Syrian oil and the impact it is beginning to have on the Syrian regime stands in stark contrast to the seemingly ineffective sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iran in response to Tehran's clandestine nuclear program. In May of this year the world's global nuclear inspection agency revealed that it possessed evidence that Tehran has conducted work on highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that could be used for only one purpose: setting off a nuclear explosion. Concurrently, Iran was taking steps to move its most sensitive nuclear fuel production to a heavily defended underground military facility outside the holy city of Qum.
Given the importance of the income stream generated from oil sales to maintaining the current regime in power, is this not the moment for the United Nations to impose a world wide embargo on all shipments of Iranian oil? Clearly such an embargo would enormously diminish the ability of the reigning extremist mullahs to maintain their control over a nation that clearly wants a change to popular governance. The world is currently awash with oil and the two million barrels/day that Iran currently exports can readily be made up from other sources. Saudi Arabia alone has excess production capacity of more than 4 million barrels/day while some other OPEC would welcome the additional off-take. This combined with new production coming on line and halting world consumption would have little or no impact on oil's price while having a massive impact on the Iranian regime that has been using its oil wealth to keep a restive and freedom seeking population in chains.
But even if did have an impact on the price of oil, would it not result in being far less costly to the world than the alternatives:
-the unleashing of preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities bringing about another war to an already unstable region of the world with untold consequences,
-or that of living in a world with a Hitlerite regime in possession of weapons of mass destruction at their ready and the political extortion and terrorist proliferation that would result.
Not last, but which must be considered as well, the consequence of dealing with a regime fueled by the level of zealotry exemplified by Ahmadinejad's tirade, analogous to an individual Jihadist with a suicidal volition, but transmuted unto a national scale. Here there will be little room for a 'cold war' détente of mutual destruction. Rather a level of national fanaticism more in line with "Bring it On."