Yves here. This report about Iran muscling Saudi Arabia through its Yemeni allies is based on a single but credible source, Middle East Eye. Needless to say, having Iran and the Saudis negotiating directly isn’t a development the US will like much. But it’s already tossed its toys out of the pram by withdrawing from the JCPOA and then overplaying its hand in trying to impose conditions for rejoining.
By Tsvetana Paraskova, a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. Originally published at OilPrice
Iran is looking to persuade its regional rival Saudi Arabia to help it to sell Iranian crude oil on international markets in exchange for limiting attacks from the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen on Saudi oil infrastructure, Middle East Eye reported on Wednesday, quoting Iraqi officials with knowledge of recent secretive Iranian-Saudi talks in Baghdad.
Iran is currently negotiating with the signatories to the so-called nuclear deal, as well as indirectly with the United States, to potentially return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018 and slapped sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, which have crippled Iranian crude sales abroad. Despite the U.S. sanctions, Iran has been exporting part of its crude oil, and exports have been estimated at around 500,000 bpd recently.
Yet, until the sanctions are in place, Iran is looking for alternatives to have its oil sold on the international markets, and is reportedly looking to negotiate with Saudi Arabia for this. The Saudis, for their part, are looking to end the recent flare-up of attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities from the Houthis in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and Iran held direct talks in Iraq last month, the Financial Times reported at the time. The talks reportedly involved the proxy war in Yemen and the recent increase of attacks from the Houthis on oil facilities and oil infrastructure targets in Saudi Arabia.
According to Middle East Eye’s sources, Iran and Saudi Arabia held another round of talks in Iraq last week, again focused on the war in Yemen.
During the talks last week, Iran “offered to sell it [the oil] to the Saudis at a price lower than international prices on the condition that the Saudis sell it on the world markets in their own way,” a senior Iraqi official close to Iran and familiar with the talks told Middle East Eye.
Saudi Arabia demanded an end to the Houthi attacks, and this was their biggest interest in the talks, according to the Iraqi officials familiar with the talks.