Saudi Arabia calls urgent Gulf, Arab League meetings over tensions

Clay Curtis
May 20, 2019

Pompeo also said he wanted to underscore Iraq's need to protect Americans in their country.

The meeting will not take decisions on oil output but will make recommendations to another crucial ministerial meeting set to take place in Vienna next month.

Following the re-imposition of USA sanctions, a senior Iranian maritime official said Iran had adopted new tactics and new destinations in shipping its oil exports.

Russian Federation and other non-OPEC producers have agreed to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January 1 for six months, a deal created to stop inventories building up and weakening prices.

UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei told reporters in Jeddah that supply gaps would be filled by the alliance if needed but such a course of action would not be required as "inventories were building up".

Mark Dubowitz, an advocate of a hardline policy toward Iran and chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, "Trump is smart to let these advisers play the roles they play and it really does help him lay the table for negotiation, but ultimately, it comes back to his ability to oversee a negotiation and do so wisely and judiciously, and that's an open question".

The people of Iran are already suffering from economic diffiuclties on account of unilateral USA sanctions following U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by President Barack Obama's administration in 2015.

As the White House tightens its crackdown on Iran's oil sales, Saudi Arabia is under pressure to compensate by raising its crude production.

Energy intelligence firm Kpler sees Iranian exports plunging from 1.4 million bpd in April to around half a million barrels in May - down from 2.5 million in normal circumstances. "In my view, the key issue will be not about how much OPEC+ countries produce, but about the level of reserves".

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Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for nearly all Gulf exports.

"Iran has threatened the world's economic interest through threatening to close the maritime routes, and has conducted terrorist operations in Saudi and the region", he said.

Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for the drone assault, and a local newspaper linked to the Al Saud royal family called for America to launch "surgical strikes" on Tehran.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, but India has agreed to stop buying Iranian oil on the backdrop of renewed American sanctions.

"In Iraq there was a real momentum to go to war with Iraq, and there was intelligence, however flawed it turned out to be, that was generally assumed to be credible by the policymakers", Petraeus said.

But he has also made clear that he will protect U.S. interests in the region, one official said.

As President Donald Trump squeezes oil exports from the Islamic Republic with sanctions, the discussions among other producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation likely will focus on whether they need to fill a resulting supply gap.

That is likely to infuriate Iran and raise questions over the future of OPEC, of which Iran is an influential member.

"Iraqi forces are anxious that American forces could be targeted by factions loyal to Iran", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

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