Iran Seizes Vessel in the Strait of Hormuz

Iran seized an Israel-controlled vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on April 13. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (irgc) announced the capture of the msc Aries, a merchant ship flagged as Portuguese but owned by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer. According to the Mediterranean Shipping Co., which was using the ship, the Aries had left the United Arab Emirates and was en route to India.

The ship seizure comes after irgc Adm. Alireza Tangsiri told Lebanese media on April 6 that Iran could shut the Strait of Hormuz to trade if other countries on the Persian Gulf allowed “the presence of Zionist lackeys.” Iran is making good on this threat.

The Strait of Hormuz is the narrow waterway between Iran and Oman that connects the Persian Gulf’s oil-producing nations with the Indian Ocean and larger world trade. Analysts estimate about 20 to 30 percent of the world’s consumed oil passes through the strait, making it what the United States Energy Information Administration calls “the world’s most important oil transit choke point.”

Since last year, Iran has used its Houthi proxies in Yemen to disrupt merchant traffic at the Bab el-Mandeb strait at the southern end of the Red Sea. But the Bab el-Mandeb is not the only trade choke point Iran has control over. Expect Iran to increase its leverage over world trade—until somebody pushes back at its conquests.