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The Iran Primer

Annika Folkeson's Blog

Israeli Launches Quirky Anti-war Campaign on Facebook

Annika Folkeson

     Israel and Iran may be nearing confrontation over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, but Israeli graphic designer Ronnie Edry has launched a quirky campaign to build peace with the Iranian public. It’s logo is “We (heart) you.” It’s message, posted on Facebook and Youtube, is “Iranians, we will never bomb your country.” The sites quickly got thousands of hits – from Israelis and Iranians.
     Launched on March 15, Edry’s multimedia initiative reaches out to all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters. He is bluntly anti-war:
I'm not an official representative of my country. I’m a father and a teacher. I know the streets of my town, I talk with my neighbors, my family, my students, my friends and in the name of all these people …we love you.
We mean you no harm.
On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.
     Edry started by posting the message, with a picture of himself and his young daughter, on the Facebook page of Pushpin Mehina, his Tel Aviv design school. He said, in English, into the camera:
For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate.
I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you.
... I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian…Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.
     His subsequent Youtube video is only 96 seconds, but it covers the most volatile issue between the Muslim and Jewish governments. He appeals for reason by the two countries’ people.
I see sometime here, on the TV, an Iranian. He is talking about war.
I'm sure he does not represent all the people of Iran.
If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you …be sure he does not represent all of us.
     The campaign was initially small, but within days it produced dozens of messages and comments on Facebook—and even a new Iranian Facebook page in response. The Iranian page says “We (heart) you Israeli people” and features a picture of Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian ambassador to Paris in the 1940s who has been called the ‘Iranian Schindler’ for his efforts to save Iranian Jews in France from the Nazis.
     Edry told Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, that one Iranian wrote him in a private message, “We also love you. Your words are reaching us despite the censorship…The Iranian people, apart from the regime, do not hold a grudge nor animosity against anyone, especially not the Israelis… We never saw Israelis as our enemies. As such, the regime cannot gain public support for war."
The YouTube video of Ronnie Edry.


The Facebook page “Israel Loves Iran”
The Iranian Facebook page
The Facebook page of Pushpin Mehina design school, on which Edry launched his campaign on March 15.
Annika Folkeson works for the Center for Conflict Management at the U. S. Institute of Peace.

Part 3: Key Quotes on Strait of Hormuz

Annika Folkeson

Tension has increased between Iran and the United States over the past weeks following new U.S. sanctions and Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. The following are quotes on the tensions between Tehran and Washington. 
Vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi on Dec. 27
"If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz,''
Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari on Dec. 29
"Shutting the strait for Iran's armed forces is really easy—or as we say [in Iran] easier than drinking a glass of water."
Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Hossein Salami on Dec. 29
"Any threat will be responded by threat ... We will not relinquish our strategic moves if Iran's vital interests are undermined by any means."
"Americans are not in a position whether to allow Iran to close off the Strait of Hormuz."
Commander of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Ataollah Salehi on Jan. 3
“We advise, recommend, and warn them that this aircraft carrier (should) not return to its previous place in the Persian Gulf, because we are not used to repeating a warning and give a warning only once,”
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Jan. 4
“We have said that the presence of extra-regional powers in the Persian Gulf is unhelpful and damaging and their presence has no result other than turbulence in the region”

“Therefore we have always been saying that they (should) not be present in this waterway.”
U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich on Dec. 29
"Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated." 
Pentagon press secretary George Little on Jan. 3
"The deployment of US military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades,"
"These are regularly scheduled movements in accordance with our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Jan. 8
“We made very clear that the United States will not tolerate the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz,”
“That's another red line for us and that we will respond to them.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey on Jan. 8
“They’ve invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz,”
“We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that.”

Part 2: Key Facts on Iranian Oil

Annika Folkeson

Tension has increased between Iran and the United States over the past weeks after the United States imposed new sanctions and Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. The following are key facts on Iranian oil.

  • Iran holds the world’s fourth-largest proven oil reserves and the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves. International sanctions and unfavorable investment terms, however, have impeded developments across the energy sector.
  • Iran is OPEC’s second-largest oil producer and the third-largest crude oil exporter in the world.
  • Iran has an estimated 137 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, 9.3 percent of the world's total reserves and over 12 percent of OPEC reserves.
  • Saudi Arabia, which has been producing about 10 million barrels per day, has an overall production capacity of over 12 million barrels per day and is widely seen as the only OPEC member with sufficient spare capacity to offset major shortages.
  • But Iran — the world’s fourth largest producer — pumps about 4 million barrels per day, suggesting that other Gulf states would also have to up their output to offset the decline.
  • Iran relies on crude sales for about 65 percent of its of its public revenues, and sanctions or even a pre-emptive measure by Tehran to withhold its crude from the market would batter its already flailing economy.
  • China, which bought 11 percent of its oil from Iran during the first 11 months of last year, has cut its January purchase by about 285,000 barrels per day, more than half of the close to 550,000 bpd that it bought through a 2011 contract.[1]
  • China, Japan, India and South Korea together import more than 60 percent of Iranian oil exports.[2]

Part 1: Key Facts on Strait of Hormuz

Annika Folkeson

Tension has increased between Iran and the United States over the past weeks after the United States imposed new sanctions and Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. The following are key facts on the Strait.

  • The Strait of Hormuz is the world's most important chokepoint with an oil flow of almost 17 million barrels per day in 2011, up from between 15.5-16.0 million bbl/d in 2009-2010.
  • Flows through the Strait in 2011 were roughly 35 percent of all seaborne traded oil, or almost 20 percent of oil traded worldwide.
  • On average, 14 crude oil tankers per day passed through the Strait in 2011, with a corresponding amount of empty tankers entering to pick up new cargos. More than 85 percent of these crude oil exports went to Asian markets, with Japan, India, South Korea, and China representing the largest destinations.
  • About three-quarters of Japan's oil imports and about 50 percent of China's pass through this strait.[1]
  • At its narrowest point, the Strait is 21 miles wide, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles, separated by a two-mile buffer zone. The Strait is deep and wide enough to handle the world's largest crude oil tankers, with about two-thirds of oil shipments carried by tankers in excess of 150,000 deadweight tons.
  • Closure of the Strait of Hormuz would require the use of longer alternate routes at increased transportation costs.
  • Alternate routes include the 745 mile long Petroline, also known as the East-West Pipeline, across Saudi Arabia from Abqaiq to the Red Sea. The East-West Pipeline has a nameplate capacity of about 5 million bbl/d. The Abqaiq-Yanbu natural gas liquids pipeline, which runs parallel to the Petroline to the Red Sea, has a 290,000-bbl/d capacity.
  • Additional oil could also be pumped north via the Iraq-Turkey pipeline to the port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea, but volumes have been limited by the closure of the Strategic pipeline linking north and south Iraq.
  • The United Arab Emirates is also completing the 1.5 million bbl/d Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline pipeline that will cross the emirate of Abu Dhabi and end at the port of Fujairah just south of the Strait. Other alternate routes could include the deactivated 1.65-million bbl/d Iraqi Pipeline across Saudi Arabia (IPSA), and the deactivated 0.5 million-bbl/d Tapline to Lebanon.
  • The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet consists of 20-plus ships supported by combat aircraft, with 15,000 people afloat and another 1,000 ashore.[2]

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)


Key Quotes on Iran-Britain Tensions

Annika Folkeson

        After the Iranians stormed the British embassy in Tehran on Nov. 29, Britain closed the Iranian embassy in London and expelled all Iranian diplomats. Britain also evacuated its diplomats in Tehran. The new tensions followed London’s new sanctions on all Iranian banks on Nov. 21 and the Iranian parliament’s decision on Nov 27 to downgrade relations with Britain. The following are quotes on the tensions between London and Tehran from top officials.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Nov. 30
"This is a breach of international responsibilities of which any nation should be ashamed…We have now closed the British embassy in Tehran. We have decided to evacuate all our staff…We require the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and all staff must leave in the next 48 hours.”
"Iran is a country where opposition leaders are under house arrest, more than 500 people have been executed so far this year and where genuine protest is ruthlessly stamped on…The idea that the Iranian authorities could not have protected our embassy or that this assault could have taken place without some degree of regime consent is fanciful."
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Nov. 30
"The Iranian government must recognize that there will be serious consequences for failing to protect our staff…We will consider what these measures should be in the coming days."
"That should be our number one concern, their [the British diplomats’] safety, their security, and making sure that those are maintained…After that we will consider taking some very tough action in response to this completely appalling and disgraceful behavior by the Iranians."
Statement by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the British Embassy incident on Nov. 29
“Following the protest demonstration by students that led the demonstration to get out of control, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran expressed regrets for some of the unacceptable behaviors by few demonstrators that were carried out in spite of the efforts made by the police forces and strengthening the forces to protect the Embassy. The Ministry has also requested the relevant officials to immediately investigate the case and to take necessary measures in this connection.
 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs while respecting the international laws and regulations and emphasizing on the immunity of diplomatic places, reiterates further on the commitment of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to safeguard and protect the diplomatic places and personnel… It is conceded that the case will be followed through legal channels and the relevant authorities.
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani on Nov. 30
"The Security Council's reaction to the student protests is a tactic to hide the truth about the U.S. and Britain's illegal actions against Iran recently."
Iranian Member of Parliament Seyed Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi on Nov. 30
"The move by the Iranian youth at the British embassy was the occupation of the second den of spies.”
Iranian MP Zohreh Elahian on Nov. 30
"Students will not keep mum about [the] threat and sanctions on Iran."
                                                            UNITED STATES
White House Statement on the Storming of the British Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 29
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran.  Iran has a responsibility to protect the diplomatic missions present in its country and the personnel stationed at them.  We urge Iran to fully respect its international obligations, to condemn the incident, to prosecute the offenders, and to ensure that no further such incidents take place either at the British Embassy or any other mission in Iran. Our State Department is in close contact with the British government and we stand ready to support our allies at this difficult time.
Annika Folkeson works for the Center for Conflict Management at the U. S. Institute of Peace.

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