It may be coincidence or the summer heat but Saudi Arabia’s record oil production, made public just days before regional rival Iran reached a nuclear deal with world powers, is significant for oil markets. The kingdom, which has expressed fears both privately and publicly that an Iran free of sanctions would exercise its political clout in the Middle East with impunity, reacted cautiously to the agreement reached in Vienna on 14 July. The other Sunni Gulf Arab states allied with Saudi Arabia couched their often expressed concern over Iran’s regional ambition in neutral diplomatic language.

But Arab newspaper editorials which often reflect official thinking in Middle Eastern capitals, did not hold back. Saudi-owned newspapers were particularly virulent, one of which accused US President Barack Obama of unleashing “the gates of evil” on the Arab world, in the words of columnist Salman al-Dosari writing in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. The nuclear agreement, he says, does not dismantle Iran’s nuclear installations. It only pauses Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, giving the Islamic Republic breathing space to carry on with the damaging policy of meddling in Arab affairs that it began while under sanctions. (CONTINUED - 1393 WORDS)