Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the largest in Europe since WWII, has thrown the entire world into disarray. Russian armed forces invaded Ukraine on February 24 from three directions and as of this writing were advancing across the country. This invasion will certainly have especially dire consequences for the security of Europe. The current crisis threatens to throw global oil and gas markets into turmoil, with indirect effects on the Gulf region. The already uncertain energy market, partly resulting from tensions over Ukraine, has now seen oil prices cross the $100 per barrel mark. Some observers predict much higher prices, especially in Europe. Even before the Russian invasion, President Joe Biden reportedly discussed with the Qatari Emir plans to supply Europe with Qatari LNG to decrease European dependence on Russian gas. While oil producers, particularly in the GCC, stand to benefit from the steep price increase, energy importing countries of the region, and beyond, are likely to suffer.
The invasion of Ukraine affects most of the world and the Gulf states will not avoid consequences. The GCC states depend on Washington for their security and defense, both directly and through arms sales. However, Russia has become an important trade partner for the GCC. Iraq as well, have deepened their trade and security ties with Moscow. The crisis threatens to undermine the GCC balancing act between Washington and Moscow. This dilemma explains most of the statements coming from GCC officials which have called for de-escalation. On the other hand, Iran has a different stake in the crisis. Tehran and the P5+1 are in the final stages of the JCPOA and many analysts predicted that the current crisis could give the Iranian negotiators leverage since the West would benefit from a de-escalation of tensions. The US and its European allies do not want potential confrontation with Iran to distract from the challenge in Europe. Moreover, should a JCPOA agreement end America’s sanctions against Iranian oil exports, Tehran has the potential to ease Europe’s energy crisis should Russian supplies stop. According to Bloomberg, Iran has 103 million barrels in floating storage that could move to Europe almost immediately and can add another 1.3 million barrels/day in production within a short time, making a major dent in world oil prices. Yet, Tehran has already sided with Moscow by adopting the Russian claims that the crisis was caused by “NATO’s provocative actions,” according to the Iranian foreign minister tweet on February 25, 2022. On the other hand, it appears that Russia continues to cooperate with the US on bringing JCPOA talks to a successful end.
What options do the GCC states have in this crisis? How can they distance themselves from the consequences of Europe’s worst conflict since WWII? Can the West exploit the relations with the GCC states to weaken Russia’s position? How does the crisis affect JCPOA negotiations and Iran’s perception of its interests vis-a-vis the US and Russia?
Featured Speakers: Ambassador Patrick Theros (moderator), Dr. Mark N. Katz, Dr. Samuel Ramani, Dr. Diana Galeeva, and Rauf Mammadov.
Ambassador Patrick Theros (moderator)
Strategic Advisor, Gulf International Forum
Ambassador Theros has held such positions as Political Advisor to the Commander in Chief, Central Command; Deputy Chief of Mission and Political officer in Amman; Charge D’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi; Economic Counselor in Damascus; and U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar. In a career spanning almost 36 years, he also has served in diplomatic positions in Beirut, Managua, Dharan and Abu Dhabi, as well as in the Department of State. During that period, he earned four Superior Honor Awards. After retirement Ambassador Theros served as President of the U.S. Qatar Business Council in 2000-2017.
Dr. Mark N. Katz
Professor of Government and Politics, the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government.
Mark N. Katz is Professor of Government and Politics at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. He is also the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kennan Institute, and the U.S. Institute of
Peace. He has also been a Fulbright Scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies and a Sir William Luce Fellow at Durham University (both in the United Kingdom). He writes on Russian foreign policy both in general and towards the Middle East in particular; Russian-American relations; American foreign policy; great power competition; transnational revolutionary movements; relations between revolutionary and status quo powers; and relations between revolutionary actors. Links to many of his publications can be found at www.marknkatz.com.
Dr. Samuel Ramani
Associate Fellow, the Royal United Services Institute; Non-Resident Fellow, Gulf International Forum
Samuel Ramani is an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and non-resident fellow at Gulf International Forum. He is also a tutor of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford. Samuel has published extensively on the Gulf region for media outlets and think tanks, such as the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Middle East Institute, and is a regular commentator on broadcast media outlets, such as CNN, the BBC World Service and Al Jazeera English. Samuel’s first book entitled Russia in Africa: Resurgent Great Power or Bellicose Pretender will be published by Hurst and Co. in June and by Oxford University Press later in the year.
Dr. Diana Galeeva
Academic Visitor, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Dr. Diana Galeeva is currently an Academic Visitor to St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Dr Galeeva is the author of two books Qatar: The Practice of Rented Power (Routledge, 2022) and Russia and the GCC: The Case of Tatarstan’s Paradiplomacy (I.B. Tauris/ Bloomsbury, 2022). She is also a co-editor of the collection Post-Brexit Europe and UK: Policy Challenges Towards Iran and the GCC States (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). Dr Galeeva completed her bachelor at Kazan Federal University (Russia), she holds MA from Exeter University (UK) and PhD from Durham University (UK). Beyond academia, she was an intern at the President of Tatarstan’s Office for the Department of Integration with Religious Associations (2012) and the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan (2011) (Russia).
Senior Consultant, Fuld + Company; Resident Scholar on Energy policy, The Middle East Institute
Rauf Mammadov is a Senior Consultant at Fuld + Company. He is also a resident scholar on energy policy at The Middle East Institute and non-resident fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, and a founder of Eurasian Energy Chamber. He focuses on issues of energy security, global energy industry trends, as well as energy relations between the Middle East, Central Asia and South Caucasus. He has a particular emphasis on the post-Soviet countries of Eurasia. Prior to joining MEI, Mammadov held top administrative positions for the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) from 2006 to 2016. In 2012, he founded and managed the United States Representative Office of SOCAR in Washington D.C.