FM: Iran is trying to take control of Gulf region

Tehran is trying to exert control over Iraq, influence Saudi Arabia through aggressive diplomacy, Lieberman says.

Lieberman 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Lieberman 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Iran is trying to exert its control over the Gulf region through its aggressive energy policies, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio Monday morning, after Iran threatened its Gulf neighbors that they would suffer consequences should they raise oil output to replace Iranian crude facing an international ban.
"Iran is taking control of Iraq, and trying de facto to influence Saudi Arabia as is evident by the dictation of its energy policies to the entire world," Lieberman said.
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Lieberman warned that Iran's threats to close the Strait of Hormuz would affect the international community.
He insisted that Jerusalem is not "looking for a reason" to attack, adding that Israel does not want to undermine the role of the international community.
"But, Israel must hold on to all its options," the foreign minister said.
Iranian OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi said Sunday Tehran would regard as an unfriendly act any move by neighboring Gulf Arab oil exporters to make up for Iranian crude.
"If (they) give the green light to replacing Iran's oil these countries would be the main culprits for whatever happens in the region - including the Strait of Hormuz," Khatibi told the Sharq daily newspaper, referring to the narrow sea channel through which a third of the world's oil tanker traffic passes.
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"Our Arab neighbor countries should not cooperate with these (US and European) adventurers...These measures will not be perceived as friendly," he said.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Saturday the world's No. 1 oil exporter - the only one in OPEC with significant unused capacity - was ready and able to meet any increase in demand. He made no direct reference to sanctions on Iran.
Iran's navy commander Habibollah Sayyari said Tehran could exert control over the Strait of Hormuz. The United States, whose warships patrol the region, says it will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt shipping through the strait.
In signs of Tehran's deepening isolation over its refusal to halt nuclear activity that could yield atomic bombs, China's premier was in Saudi Arabia Sunday probing for greater access to its huge oil and gas reserves and Britain voiced confidence a once hesitant EU would soon ban oil imports from Iran.
Major importers of Iranian oil were long loath to embargo the lifeblood of Iran's economy because of fears this would send oil prices rocketing at a time - amidst debt and deficit crises and high unemployment - when they could least afford it.
But strong momentum for oil sanctions has been created by a UN watchdog report saying Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb.