Iran uses its oil and gas reserves to geopolitically influence other countries in the Middle East, thereby assuming a leading role in the global energy business.
Iran is in competition with Saudi Arabia for more political influence in the Middle East. It is crucial for Iran to extend its political influence to the countries of the Middle East and to protect itself globally against the influence of Western countries in its own country, vis-à-vis the United States and the European Union, whereby the United States and Great Britain are perceived as geopolitical competitors due to historical entanglements. On a deeper level, Saudi Arabia and Iran are geopolitical rivals, both countries have enormous energy reserves which they use to influence other resource-rich countries, especially in the Middle East, to gain more weight in global energy trade in addition to their own energy reserves. Iran is currently in a much better position in terms of gaining influence in the energy policies of the Middle Eastern countries, as it has been able to significantly expand its sphere of influence in Iraq, another oil- and gas-rich producing country. The fact that Qatar now wants to withdraw from OPEC is partly due to the fact that Saudi Arabia continues to put little Qatar under pressure. As a country bordering the Gulf, please join Saudi Arabia in its energy policy goals and take a stronger stand against Iran. As I mentioned in a previous article, Qatar sees itself as a mediator, which is not always desired by all sides. But it has to be considered that Qatar is very interesting for Iran as a geopolitical partner, because of the enormous natural gas reserves which represent a welcome enrichment of Iran’s existing natural gas reserves.
Through various international collaborations in the Middle East, Iran is creating a considerable sphere of influence. Through such actions, Iran is exerting more and more influence on global energy markets.
For the greatest danger to Saudi Arabia is that Iran will develop a monopoly of power in Iraq and Qatar. This would make Iran the energy hub of the global energy trade. Saudi Arabia ties in with a close military and energy policy relationship with the United States that has lasted for over 60 years, in which Saudi Arabia sells its production volumes in US dollars in the global oil business. In return, the United States grants Saudi Arabia military protection, and this procedure is constantly renewed with every inauguration of an American president who appears as Saudi Arabia’s patron saint. Iran is undermining Saudi Arabia’s strategy of offering the Americans military protection in return, because Saudi Arabia’s advantage is that the Gulf monarchy has a kind of monopoly in OPEC. This is precisely the significance of Saudi Arabia for the United States. Iran’s political influence in the energy policies of Iraq and Qatar is creating a clear antithesis to Saudi Arabia. It must always be considered that Saudi Arabia, in contrast to Iran, needs the military protection of the American government in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia needs the American navy to send its oil exports all over the world and thus generate the necessary national income for Saudi Arabia. Although Iran is also dependent on cooperation in international energy policy, Iran’s dependence on other countries is less pronounced due to its independence. The net energy consumption of Iran would be more problematic. The same could also be said about Saudi Arabia. Iran needs an ever larger portion of the total energy consumption in order to supply its own population with energy, whereby the energy supply is heavily subsidized. In addition, the entire energy system of Iran is characterized by inefficiencies that are very difficult to eliminate.
Iran’s future in terms of energy policy depends on Western sanctions and the civilian use of nuclear energy.
The Iranian government has had to endure Western sanctions for a long time and finds new ways and new partners willing to buy Iran’s oil and gas production, especially China. The energy policy coordination of the Chinese, Russian and Iranian governments would be a considerable risk for the American-Saudi cooperation and has the potential to undermine the relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. It must be taken into account that Iran, with the help of the Russian government, is moving towards the civilian use of nuclear energy.