Riyadh, Moscow: swapping Assad for oil prices?

The drop in oil prices greatly prejudices the economies of Russia, Iran and Venezuela. These three countries share common goals in the international arena and are leading oil producers. They therefore have a vested interest in the oil prices return to a level that at least covers the cost of their production.

Although Saudi Arabia has officially denied any geopolitical intention behind her decision – followed by OPEC – not to cut oil production and thus accentuate the downward trend, information began to spread claiming that Saudi Arabia would be currently holding secret negotiations with Russia. These would focus on the recovery of oil prices at a level acceptable to Russia in exchange for ending its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Among other evidence, meetings took place recently between the Russian government and the Syrian opposition groups.

In practice, such a theory seems unrealistic firstly because Assad regained the lead on the ground, then because Russia certainly would not change her Middle East policy on the only Saudi guarantee on oil prices on which Saudi influence will probably weaken in the long term, since the United States has become the largest producer. Also, the supply and demand remain the main factors in the oil market, beyond any geopolitical consideration; and the supply is greater than demand, at least in the medium term.