Saudi options for filling strategic vacuum left by US disengagement #geopoliticsJanuary 28, 2014
The energy rich Persian Gulf has long been held in balance between two local powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The much more populous Iran has been held in check by the House of Saud through the deft geopolitical moves of the latter. In particular, the Saudis have leveraged US energy dependence to create a large and decades long US military presence in the region which Iran has never had a chance of matching. However, as the War on Terror shifts to a low intensity phase and the United States abandons the two major combat theaters (Iraq and Afghanistan), the Saudis are confronted with an Iran that has proxy forces in Iraq and Syria, is on the verge of having its nuclear ambitions legitimized, and left with a US ally in which it no longer has confidence.
Brandon Friedman examines the Saudi options in this analysis for Israel’s Dayan Center (link opens a pdf file) and concludes that it is possible that Saudi Arabia, too, will seek nuclear weapons and further destabilize the most important energy producing region in the world.
This is energy geopolitics at its most basic and most dangerous level.