Saudi Arabia's Appropriate Response to Iran's Assassination Plot

Well no it hasn't happened yet. This in spite Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal's declaration that Saudi Arabia would "strongly respond" to an act that "reflects the policies of Iran". The act would be "within the framework of international law which Iran has violated." The plot comes at a time of rising tension between the Saudis and the Iranians as the Middle East shakes under the turmoil of the 'Arab Spring.'

While President Obama is declaring that Iran "must pay the price" the threat of additional sanctions against a swathe of industries/services doing business with Iran from banks, insurance companies, airline fuel suppliers, on and on, would have only minimal impact given the ineffectiveness of current sanctions to rein in Iranian transgressions.

The one singular arrow remaining other than war in the quiver of those societies, whether the United States, Saudi Arabia, neighboring nations of the Gulf, the Middle East extending to Europe within the sights and ambitions of Iran's bellicose policies soon to be enhanced with nuclear armaments (an issue of ever heightening concern as reported in today's New York Times, "To Isolate Iran, U.S. Presses Inspectors on Nuclear Data") is a total embargo on Iran's oil exports. 65% of Iranian revenues are derived from oil profits, funds that first go to financing the structure of Iran's oppressive government and paying the hoods of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Rather than waiting for the United States government to take the lead would it not be salutary for this once to have Saudi Arabia take the initiative and formulate policy? Iran exports some 2.4 million barrels of oil a day. Well and good. Their top ten buyers of Iranian Crude Oil:

Rank Reporting Country 2005 - Destinations (Thousand bbl/d)

Japan 685,000

China 284,000

South Korea 195,000

Italy 193,000

France 142,000

Netherlands 139,000

Turkey 138,000

South Africa 134,000

Taiwan 125,000

Greece 88,000

Saudi Arabia loads out between 8 and 9 million barrels/day probably closer to 8 million. Their production capacity is 12.5 million/day and they have had tentative plans to increase production capability to 15 million/day.

A simple but significantly meaningful declaration by Saudi Arabia that they would undertake to supply world customers with whatever shortfall resulted from an embargo on Iranian oil. That the oil would be supplied in a manner that would cause no disruption of oil supply and would have no impact on the direction of oil prices.

That the pledge would hold fast until there is a meaningful change of government in Iran whose malign policies would desist and a government that would respect and would be in full compliance with the directives of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

That an oil embargo would be effective is validated by Syria's current travails. "Sanctions Pose Growing Threat to Syria's Assad" emblazoned a New York Times headline that the "Syrian economy is buckling under pressure by the West". A significant tool is the total embargo of Syrian oil exports by Syria's main customer base, Western Europe. Though small by comparison to those of Iran's (100,000 bbls/day vs Iran's 2.4 million bbls/day) it underlines how effective an oil embargo can be.

With Saudi Arabia taking a leadership role in this manner the United States and those other nations cognizant and responsive to the grave dangers posed by Iran's belligerency, not to speak of the Iranian regimes misrule and crushing of the Iranian people's liberties, a meaningful riposte could for once be structured without a call to arms.