Iran needs to be Squeezed and Ahmadinejad needs to go

In case you missed these Iran-related talking points last week…

  • Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying that “Iran is very vulnerable in the oil sector, and it is there that more could be done to squeeze the current government.” While Jay Solomon notes the former intelligence head was speaking in “private capacity,” Faisal has been used in the past to “float ideas” concerning Saudi policy. Faisal allegedly made the “closed-door remarks” earlier in the month, likely after the Saudi-led 4 Gulf country proposal to increase crude oil production was rejected by a 7 country majority (Nigeria remained neutral).Meanwhile discussions about whether markets require more crude oil continue. Earlier in the month Katherine Spector at CIBC World Markets was quoted in Reuters saying that

    Saudi is the cartel member most interested in earning political ‘points’ with consuming countries, and maintaining its image as a reliable supplier of last resort….Venezuela and Iran likely feel they have less to gain politically by increasing quotas as a symbolic gesture.

    And according to policy analyst Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, global oil supplies are healthier than they seem because “the most substantial fallout from the Arab world’s recent upheaval is behind us,” more additional supply is coming and OPEC’s biggest producer Saudi Arabia increased production anyway.

    Bremmer ends his piece in the Financial Times by noting

    Economically stressed oil producers such as Iran and Venezuela always want higher oil prices. But the Saudis and other Gulf Co-operation Council producers maintain a longer-term moderating outlook and they are the ones with the spare capacity to make the difference.

  • As an addendum to my post from the 17th, Vali Nasr has also weighed in on the debate about what the departure of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will mean for US policy. Writing in Foreign Policy the professor of international politics states:

    Ahmadinejad is a threat to clerical supremacy, but without him, Khomeinism is even more vulnerable to reformist challengers. The alternative would be a right-wing ideological state — nationalist, fundamentalist, populist, and ruled by militarism, something akin to the Japan of the 1930s. And that cannot last. In this contest between Iran’s elite factions, the world should be rooting for the clergy — their victory will bring about the quickest end to the Islamic Republic.

    While an Iran nationalist-led Islamic Republic of Iran could indeed prove to be more powerful than the one led by the increasingly hated clergy, Nasr’s statement that “[a]round the region, Ahmadinejad has had little impact” is questionable.

    As shown by a 2010 Sadat Chair/Zogby International poll surveying Arab public opinion in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, when asked about the world leader Arabs admired most, Ahmadinejad came in 3rd place, behind Recep Erdo?an and Hugo Chavez. This amounts to quite an impact, no?

    According to the principal investigator Professor Shibley Telhami

    My own analysis of the results suggested that Iran is benefiting from the sentiment that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This was particularly visible when those polled were asked to identify the two states that posed the biggest threat to them: 88 percent identified Israel, 77 percent identified the United States and 10 percent identified Iran. While the results on this latter issue varied somewhat from country to country, the trend held across countries polled.

    But this year the populist leader isn’t only the enemy of the West, he’s also a public enemy of Iran’s traditional ruling elite and it will be interesting to see how Arab populations respond to the increasing attacks on him.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



  1. The Saudis would like to have oil prices stable at around $80-85 a barrel, for political and security reasons. Or, to put it another way, they prefer to bleed us slowly so we don’t die, which would leave them them alone to face the rise of the Shia across the Gulf.

    Telhami is of course correct. The pressure upon Israel in coming decades will only keep growing. I personally am convinced that Israel will disappear in 30-40 years. Whether it ends in a bloodbath or not, I’m not sure. But one way or another, the Jewish state in Palestine is doomed.

  2. The Saudis want prices there as that is a fair price that won’t drain us, or them. They understand that a healthy economy with modest oil prices is better for the both of us. Frankly, the guy who sells you gas is most dependent on a healthy economy–you might listen to him.

    If we had listened to the Saudis, we would have been well served–at least on economic, oil supply issues, frankly, though their authoritarian ways in Bahrain and their own shortcomings on civil and social liberties are another matter. They called out the last two oil speculation bubbles, even though the higher prices were helpful to them in the short run. They offered to increase production, even though there was no extra demand, as there is no unmet demand now.

    Somehow, I doubt the Saudis are or feel as existentially threatened by the Iranians as we’d like to think. It’s like us using the Soviets in the 80’s to start this latest phase of colonial expansion.

  3. If the Saudi Oligarchs — best friends of Our Oligarchs — have anything to say about anything — you can bet they won’t be speaking on behalf of you or I. To anyone who thinks the Saudis are helping the average American, time to get your head out of your ass.

    The Saudis are feeling a bit nervous about their own circumstances and that is what guides their actions. They are terrified that the large Shia minority in Saudi will be inspired by other uprisings of the so called ‘Arab Spring’. They want to shift focus off of themselves and onto an external threat. Ahmedinajad fits the bill perfectly. Sound familiar?

    The threat isn’t in Iran. If the U.S. Military/Industrial/Security Complex wants a war with Iran, they’ll get it.

    When corporate profits starts to dip, precipitously, we’ll get our war. Bet on it.

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