A hardline newspaper close to Iran’s ruling clerics suggests authorities close the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial waterway for global energy supplies, in response to alleged foreign support for the nationwide protests gripping the country.
The suggestion comes from the editor-in-chief of the Kayhan newspaper, who is appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in an editorial that could be seen as a trial balloon.
“Closing the Strait of Hormuz to Western countries’ oil tankers and commercial vessels is Iran’s legal right,” Hossein Shariatmadari writes. “We can even seize a part of their commercial cargo as compensation for the financial damage they have done to our country.”
It’s not the first time Shariatmadari has proposed closing the strait, through which around one-third of all oil traded by sea passes.
The narrow waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf has seen a number of tense encounters over the years. Any attempt to close it would risk a major confrontation with the United States, which has pledged to ensure the free flow of commerce, and could roil international oil markets.
The protests erupted in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating strict dress codes for women. The demonstrations rapidly spread across the country and mark one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 revolution that brought it to power.
Iran has blamed the protests, and attacks on security forces, on foreign countries, without providing evidence.