Thursday, in the Gulf of Oman, explosions rocked a pair of oil tankers, leaving both adrift. This, only one month after four tankers were sabotaged in a port in the United Arab Emirates.
As CNBC reported Friday morning, Middle East analysts see Iran’s fingerprints on these attacks, which occurred in an area where a third of the world’s shipped oil passes. And that’s fueling fear in energy markets that could send prices of West Texas Crude soaring, as the risk of war with Iran rises.
Shawn Snow is covering the story for Military Times. He says Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, would have multiple reasons for launching an attack on the tankers. They include domestic political differences with Iran’s president, and a different stance on U.S. sanctions against Iran than the government has maintained.
“Also, it would be advantageous for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to maintain the status quo with the sanctions regime, because the sanctions, as a lot of outlets have reported previously, have actually empowered the IRGC,” Snow says.
The IRGC plays a large role in the Iranian economy, Snow says, and it even colludes with oil smugglers in the region.
“The sanctions have only strengthened the IRGC’s economic clout in the region,” he says.
In fact, Snow says, the IRGC has absorbed economic activity previously carried out by businesses that have been forced to leave the region by sanctions against Iran.
“We’ve seen in the past, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps use attacks similar to the ones we saw yesterday, and the ones in May as a way to sometimes spike oil prices in the region,” Snow says.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.