This is now the ultimate game of leverage between Iran and the United States, with Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure being used by Tehran to win concessions from Washington.
There has been no call to war. The highest level this has reached (and keep in mind that the markets have already largely written off the incident) is for the US to announce a troop deployment to the Middle East, to defend Saudi Arabia and the UAE. That move in itself can be seen as a sign of weakness for these Gulf giants whose own alliance has been wrecked by Yemen and whose defense systems are now glaringly incapable of protecting strategic assets - even from the rogue Houthis (with, of course, Iranian aid).
Iran is now laying all of its cards on the table, offering to meet with Trump should the American president “do the right thing” and lift sanctions.
Back in Saudi Arabia, there is little time to consider the new geopolitical reality of a weakened Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They’re too busy wondering what this will all mean for OPEC leadership, future vulnerability of oil installations, and the Aramco IPO.
There is a certain amount of skepticism as to whether the Saudi oil leadership will be able to meet its promise of getting Abqaiq - the world’s largest oil processing facility - repaired and fully operational by the end of this month.
Recent announcements, such as a notice to Japan’s NXTG Nippon Oil & Energy (Japan’s…