Khashoggi killing undercuts Trump campaign against Iran

Al Monitor | : Confirmation that dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul comes at an extremely awkward moment for the Donald Trump administration’s escalating economic and information war against Saudi rival Iran.

Riyadh has now admitted that Saudi security officers killed Khashoggi on Oct. 2 shortly after he entered the consulate. It was barely a month before US secondary sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank and oil exports are due to come back into full force.

The crisis comes at a time when questions were already being raised about the efficacy of the resumed sanctions.

The Trump administration has been counting on Saudi Arabia to pump oil at maximum capacity to compensate for Iranian oil taken off the market by sanctions and to keep the price of oil relatively low. However, oil prices have already risen since the US quit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May by about $20 a barrel, from around $60 to more than $80. Experts believe that it will be difficult for Saudi Arabia to continue to tap into spare capacity indefinitely if sanctions against Iran are as open-ended as they appear.

Sara Vakhshouri, founder and president of SVB Energy International, told Al-Monitor that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has 2.64 million barrels a day of spare capacity, of which Saudi Arabia accounts for 1.94 million barrels. She said, “OPEC and Saudi Arabia have already increased their production and not all of this above-mentioned capacity is available.”

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