Neoliberal thinking provides a broad-spectrum interpretation of the role of resources in regional rivalries, and issues such as identity, energy and water resources are considered legitimate reasons for rivalry in international politics. Strategists argue that in the years following the Cold War, there was good reason for new regional and international rivalries to erupt: such as the crisis in Ukraine and the security crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and in other countries of the region – all of them examples of conflicts over energy resources. It follows that in light of these crises, multilateral cooperation on the regional and international levels should evolve to satisfy Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s shared revenue needs. Oil is one of the factors that can enhance cooperation and inter-state relationships. Harmonising Iranian-Saudi relations in the area of resource diplomacy is part of the neoliberal imperative of linking strategic and economic issues.
In this paper, we deploy neoliberal thinking as a tool to improve the nature of the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Neoliberalism sees the possibility of expanding relationships with strategic regions through economic cooperation. The key question here is: how to rebuild regional relationships between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Therefore, the present research explores this question, relying on the hypothesis of whether it is possible to rebuild regional relationships between Iran and Saudi Arabia based on resource economics and its impacts on diplomacy.
In the post-Cold War years, global politics have been influenced by issues such as identity, economy and resources, especially oil. The Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia are among the largest oil and gas producers in the Middle East and the world. The world’s advanced industrialised countries have been unable to dispense with energy – especially oil and gas – even as they pursue their own international trade policies and try to establish a power bloc to counterbalance ascendant powers around the world, and the Middle East in particular.
The possibility of using the energy diplomacy approach for Iran and Saudi Arabia is an important consideration, as it provides the groundwork for what is otherwise an unpalatable regional role and at the same time creates an economic platform for the cross-fertilization of interests between the respective countries. Energy economics is considered a strategic issue in the literature of international relations and provides the basis for sustainable development from the economic, social, environmental and political standpoint. In other words, energy diplomacy is a set of behaviours and interactions of one country with the rest of the international community: a diplomatic tool with which to participate in the international scene and for the country to maintain its place in the international order.
Energy diplomacy has its own long-term objectives that seek to maintain the energy security of a country. A strong diplomatic framework is a prerequisite if a country is to be successful in achieving its two main objectives on the global energy scene: one is securing energy supplies and the other is protecting national security or national interests.