The Saudi-Emirati disparity in “OPEC Plus” .. a conflict over the reasons


Because of a rare public dispute between Saudi Arabia and its traditional ally, the UAE, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC Plus) canceled, on Monday, their ministerial meeting to complete negotiations on the production plan, after postponing two previous meetings, for reasons considered by some press reports to be economic with political backgrounds.

The proposed plan provides for an increase in oil production by 400,000 barrels per day every month from August to December, so that the additional amount of oil put on the market by the end of the year will reach two million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia and Russia are pushing for the adoption of this agreement until December 2022, but the UAE says it is too early to agree to the extension until the end of next year, and wants production levels to be re-discussed by the end of the current agreement in April 2022.

And about the existence of political backgrounds between the two neighbors, the newspaper quoted “The Wall Street Journal A “high-ranking” Saudi official (who was not identified) said that “the OPEC clash is not something that just erupted overnight. The UAE and the Kingdom do not get along in the Middle East.”

According to the newspaper, Gulf officials and Arab diplomats say that the confrontation also represents a new confirmation of the existence of economic and political differences between the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

On the other hand, the Emirati political analyst, Abdul-Khaleq Abdullah, opposes this and says in an interview with Al-Hurra that “coordination between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi is at its highest levels, and there is complete agreement between them, in all files,” describing the relationship between the leadership of the two countries as “amazing.” .

Abdullah considered that “the dispute within OPEC does not mean the dispute between the two countries,” stressing that “the UAE has a point of view in the current distribution of oil quotas, and the dispute is among friends, partners, and allies.”

At the heart of the dispute between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi is the issue of the volume of production, through which each country’s share is calculated.

The UAE insists on raising the main production line by 0.6 million barrels per day to 3.8 million barrels, considering that the current ratio set (3.17 million) in October 2018 does not reflect its full production capacity.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE .. The causes of the dispute and the future of “OPEC Plus”

The public dispute between Saudi Arabia and its ally, the UAE, over the export of oil escalated after the statements of the energy ministers of the two countries regarding the agreement of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

While the Saudi political analyst, Fawaz bin Kasib Al-Enezi, does not deny, to Al-Hurra, the existence of a dispute between the two countries regarding the Middle East files, saying that “Abu Dhabi is looking for its interests, and so does Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Enezi added that “the difference between the two countries is under the umbrella of the oil market and OPEC, but the old and historical relations between the two countries, without any doubt, contribute to the return of things to normal.”

Regarding the nature of these differences, the Saudi analyst says that “there are changes on the ground and in the political scene in particular, and every country has its freedom of sovereignty,” calling on Abu Dhabi to “take into account the interests of Saudi Arabia in the first place, as it is the backbone of the Gulf states.”

He stressed that “the region is going through security changes, especially with the presence of several threats, most notably from Iran, Turkey, and what the Houthi group is doing” in Yemen, noting that “the UAE should take this into consideration and make concessions in order to achieve compatibility and agreement with the Kingdom’s policy.”

In 2019, the UAE withdrew the majority of its forces in Yemen, after it was a major component of the military coalition led by the Kingdom in this country against the Houthis since 2015.

Returning to the newspaper, it quoted officials and diplomats as saying that “the UAE is disturbed by the speed with which Riyadh reconciled with Qatar.”

In turn, the newspaperFinancial TimesIn a report published two days ago, the dispute over “economic and political competition between the two countries,” speaking about the aspect of reconciliation with Qatar, adding that normalization with Israel “astonished” the Saudis as well.

The Emirati analyst comments that “the UAE signed the Al-Ula summit agreement, which put an end to the boycott, and a circle of reconciliation was entered into,” adding that “there is no official suggestion that the UAE is disturbed by that.”

He explains that “reconciliation is taking place on more than one level, with regard to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, or even Cairo and Doha, the outstanding bilateral issues were quickly resolved, but for the UAE and Bahrain, resolving all legal, investment and political issues with Qatar requires more time.”

The Gulf Al-Ula summit in Saudi Arabia last January ended about three years of estrangement between Qatar and its neighbors, as the leaders’ session was chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after US efforts praised by the latter.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting extremist Islamist groups, something Doha denies.

The Gulf summit of Al-Ula ended nearly three years of estrangement with Qatar

The Gulf summit of Al-Ula ended nearly three years of estrangement with Qatar

For his part, Al-Enezi believes that “the Saudi-Qatari rapprochement is in the interest of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the League of Arab States,” stressing that “Abu Dhabi still maintains its position on Qatar, and it is far from (from reconciliation).”

Al-Enezi added: “There is an Emirati-Iranian rapprochement from an economic perspective, despite the risks posed by Tehran and the aggression it is waging on the Gulf region and Arab countries, and even on the UAE’s Arab islands.”

Abu Dhabi accuses Tehran of occupying three Emirati islands since 1971, and despite the tension between the UAE and Iran located only 70 kilometers away at the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the two countries have maintained diplomatic channels and historical economic relations that generate billions of dollars annually for both sides.

As for the normalization of relations with Israel, Abdullah puts this in the category of “sovereign decisions”, and said: “There is no objection to the right of every country to consider its own supreme national interests.”

He pointed out that “the UAE’s normalization process is not different from other Arab countries, the printing press.”

Abdullah continued: “Most of the Arab countries establish relations in some way with Israel, and accordingly I do not think that Abu Dhabi did this far from consulting with the countries closest to it, specifically Saudi Arabia.”

In mid-September 2020, the UAE and Bahrain signed two agreements to normalize relations with Israel, and later, Sudan and Morocco announced the normalization of their relations as well.

Lapid’s visit to the UAE.. The Israeli consul praises “cooperation” and anticipates the “Iranian incursion”

In a visit, the first in which an Israeli minister travels to a Gulf country, the new foreign minister, Yair Lapid, will arrive in the Emirates next week, at a time when former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to organize this step, which was postponed several times, All the way to remove him from power.

In turn, Al-Enezi affirms that “each country has its own sovereignty and decision in this regard,” reiterating that the UAE must make “concessions,” especially since “all Gulf countries view the Kingdom as a leading country.”

And the Saudi Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, had confirmed, on Sunday, in an interview with Al-Arabiya channel, that there was a “consensus” in the “OPEC Plus” organization, adding that “the consensus exists and does exist, except for one country,” calling for “something of compromise and a bit of rationality” to reach an agreement.

On the other hand, the UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Suhail Al Mazrouei, said on Sunday, “The UAE’s demand is justice only in the new agreement after April.”

He continued in an interview with “Sky News Arabia” channel, which is based in Abu Dhabi, “It is unreasonable to accept the continuation of injustice and sacrifice more than we have been patient and sacrificed.”


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