June MENA Monthly
Can China forge intractable peace via the UNSC?
After weeks of oil markets not registering the potential impact of a return of Iranian crude, prices are likely to reflect the return in H2 of this year. However, given current demand prospects, the oil market is likely to be able to absorb the additional supply. This should not cause prices to fluctuate significantly, nor should it stall the drawdown in oil inventories. Of course, this is contingent on a resolution to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. Negotiations in Vienna entered a fifth round of talks this week. While the Iranian and US delegations are both keen to sign a resolution before the current administration in Tehran steps down, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei could well delay signing anything until the incoming hardliners take their seats after the June elections. This looks increasingly likely following the one-month extension of Tehran’s agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In Saudi Arabia, figures from last quarter reveal that the kingdom’s tight fiscal purse strings are starting to yield rewards. The budget shortfall has narrowed, posting the lowest deficit since Q3 2018. Saudi Arabia’s fiscal position is expected to strengthen as oil revenues begin to pick up.
We also highlight the shifts in regional geopolitical dynamics. After the US recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, we have witnessed the kingdom adopt a more assertive foreign policy stance. The already-chilly relations between Spain and Morocco are set to worsen following Madrid’s decision to allow the head of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, to enter Spain for medical treatment.
We also provide insight into Libya, Tunisia and, as always, offer an update on the latest Sino-MENA developments highlighting China’s growing foreign policy role as it prepares to head the UNSC. In our Energy Outlook, we share our analysis concerning the impact of cyberattacks on the energy industry.