Political stress in Saudi Arabia and Iran

SYDNEY BOSSIDIS
STAFF WRITER

Photo by Grace Grelak

On Sept. 14, there was a drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia. Half of the country’s oil supply was compromised, the equivalent of five percent of the world’s supply.

Following the attack, the prices of crude oil increased in response to the shortage. Costs enlarged by up to 20 percent, hitting a peak at $72 a barrel. However, most of the production has since been restored. This occurred much faster than most experts predicted.

Currently, Iran is denying any responsibility for the attack on the Saudi Arabian oil field.

“The critics of the Trump administration are arguing that in many ways Trump has created an environment in which this type of reaction, if it was in fact by the Iranians, was prompted by the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement,” said Derick Hulme, professor of Political Science.

In 2015, the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council— China, United States, France, United Kingdom, and Russia—as well as German, made an agreement with Iran that was to curb their production of missiles. In return, they agreed that other countries would remove economic sanctions on Iran.

In May 2018, President Trump made the decision to pull of the deal with Iran. Recently, this has led to Iran violating the agreement and the United States pressuring other countries to impose sanctions on Iran again.

France, Britain and Germany have been calling for a new agreement to be made; however, it is highly unlikely given how difficult it was to reach the previous agreement.

“It was multilateral diplomacy at its most complicated and ultimately most successful and there was a clear quid quo pro,” said Hulme in regard to the previous agreement. “The idea that Iran will come back to the table is highly unlikely.”

On Sept. 20, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, announced that the U.S. would be sending troops to Saudi Arabia to enhance their defense. On Sept. 26, Esper included the addition of two patriot missiles and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense—THAAD—system.

THAAD is a defense system designed to target incoming missies and intercept them before reaching their target. “Any kind of enhanced assistance to the Saudis comes with significant regional implications,” said Hulme.

“It’s likely that many people don’t know about the situation because it isn’t being as thoroughly reported on and distributed like the impeachment proceedings,” said Destiny Herbers (‘21). She is fairly unfamiliar with the situation occurring abroad knowing not much more than Trump approving more troops to aid Saudi Arabia.

Elizabeth Flatoff (‘21) says she knows what happens but does not know all the details. She hears people talking about it but questions the reliability of their comments.

“I understand in a broad sense we help our allies,” said Flatoff. “Do I think we need to immediately send in troops? No.”

Flatoff said it is important for the Untied States to help their allies but there are other things the country can be doing to also aid in preventing future incidents.

“I think we should be helping Saudi Arabia to a degree because they are our ally and we use their oil, but I do also think we should be denouncing the acts which we are to an extent but not enough,” said Flatoff.

“I don’t think it currently affects me as a student but it could,” said Flatoff.

“I think that students should be aware of it as international conflicts have the potential to impact our lives,” said Herbers.

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