The wisdom of Saudi foreign policy is found in its stance to remain neutral in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and its commitments to honor the OPEC+ deal with Russia.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke on the phone with the French president on Feb. 27, where the two leaders discussed how the war in Ukraine is impacting the world’s energy markets. Therefore, it will be wrong for US President Joe Biden’s administration to try to convince Saudi Arabia to scrap its agreement with Russia over the pricing level and the amount of production for oil since such a decision will do more harm than good to the world’s economies.
The Kingdom believes that the war between Russia and Ukraine has created many difficulties for many countries. Global stability has been jeopardized. It is making our contemporary life a turbulent world.
Saudi Arabia wants to preserve peace in the world. The war between Russia and Ukraine has shattered many patterns in the conduct of international politics since it is the first major armed conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War. It is also a case of the threats to use nuclear deterrence since Russia has elevated its degree of nuclear weapons readiness.
America’s strategic superiority is being challenged significantly at two levels. First, there is the fierce insistence by Russia that Ukraine is part of its security sphere of influence. Second, there is the possibility of disagreements between the US and its European allies over the scope, methods and the tools of punishing Russia because of its military actions inside Ukraine.
The Kingdom believes that the war between Russia and Ukraine has created many difficulties for many countries. Global stability has been jeopardized.
This compels other nations such as China, India and the UAE to look for compromises to end that dangerous conflict and take into consideration Russia’s concerns and Ukraine’s desire for protection. The current conflict in Ukraine has established parity in the ability of both Washington and Moscow to wage a war.
These are the strategic calculations of the leadership in Saudi Arabia. It is studying and observing the Russo-Ukrainian War very keenly to guide the world about how to terminate it and to avoid its escalation. This requires a neutral stance among the war’s many detractors and supporters. This is beginning to convince many nations that Saudi Arabia has displayed a great deal of responsibility to eliminate any likelihood for the conflict escalating into potential catastrophe. The Kingdom’s neutrality is a major will to involve the two major superpowers toward the goal of terminating this conflict in the ex-Soviet Union.
On the other hand, the OPEC+ formula reached with Russia last year should remain intact. It is the most rational division of energy power and resources involving two giant blocs of energy and oil producers. This is the fundamental equation of oil markets all over the world. It is evolving into a comprehensive understanding to stabilize oil prices. It is no secret transaction which often defines oil markets among many regions and countries.
Consequently, the two big oil producers are less inclined now to resort to pricing and quota production wars which also characterized oil markets for decades.
The OPEC+ rule also allows for independence in oil markets. Many countries are singularly producing their own oil resources and are marketing them individually. Yet, they are helped in their oil business strategies by the fact that the OPEC+ is governed by trustful and dependable sharing agreement between the two biggest oil producers globally speaking.
OPEC+ is helping countries worldwide by giving them direct access to oil markets at reasonable prices. When it was implemented last year, it offered so many nations short-term and flexible alternatives to buying oil during a time of a global economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a commercial outreach that helped many countries meet their energy needs at a time when the supply chains of so many commodities were not available due to the effects of the pandemic.
This deal should not cause any uneasiness inside the US. In the long-term, the US will advance as it becomes more self-dependent in its oil production. The OPEC+ agreement will enhance the production process of oil extraction and refinery to be more adherent with the strict environmental standards that Washington expects.
This issue is an example of how geopolitical factors and geoeconomic elements of international politics can be meshed to render a smooth and harmonious state of world affairs for an increasingly complex world. It is a powerful economic partnership that is by far the most important stakeholder of the oil international order for the years to come. It is the best engaged oil market for any energy strategy and vision of any nation.
• Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst. Twitter: @Mr_Alshammeri