Oil price to trump politics

Kuwait appears to be in the middle of a sustained effort to prevent the regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia taking a more alarming turn.

The low-key Kuwaiti diplomacy has been going on for at least several months amid suggestions there could soon be a dialogue.

However, the obstacles are many and what appears to be a recent warming of relations between Saudi Arabia and the US could, perversely, slow down rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran.

Saudi concerns over Iran reached a peak after the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which saw sanctions against Tehran relaxed amid Saudi fears this would be at the expense of its own relationship with the US.

Nevertheless, the two regional powerhouses were late last year beginning to work together within Opec to stabilise oil prices.

The need to deal with regional realities can safely be assumed to have been an important factor in Saudi and Iranian attitudes.

However, Kuwait’s diplomatic successes may have come under threat with talks this week between Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Donald Trump.

If, as the prince believes, his talks with Trump are a historic turning point, one assumption has to be that the Saudis will feel less pressure to use their own initiative in dealing with regional realities.

The coming weeks may show if Kuwaiti diplomacy is going anywhere.

However, with the damaging oil price collapse of 2014 in mind, it seems safe to assume that oil revenues will not be sacrificed to politics.