Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions: A 6-month Outlook


    On the 1st of November 2022, Saudi Arabia shared intelligence with the United States (US) that Iran was likely planning an attack in 48 hours’ time. This came after a month of worsening relations between Saudi Arabia and the US over OPEC production cuts. With Iran’s increasing involvement in the Ukraine war and with its worsening domestic situation, stoking tensions with its rivals could prove to be a tantalising distraction for the populace.

    KJ-1: It is likely Iran-Saudi tensions will continue to rise in the next 6 months.

    • On the 1st of November 2022, Saudi Arabia shared intelligence with the US that Iran was likely planning an attack in 48 hours’ time. (Source)
    • Saudi Arabian and US forces are currently in a state of high alert because of the increased level of threat from Iran. (Source)
    • Iran’s bombardments of neighbouring Iraq in late September show the regime will turn to force to distract from internal unrest. (Source)
    • Iran claimed such accusations are baseless and are rumours spread by Zionist regimes to undermine Tehran. (Source)
    • A Telegram channel associated with the Iranian Republican Guard Crops (IRGC) posted an animation of suicide drones attacking Saudi oil fields. (Source)
    • In October 2022, the IRGC threatened Saudi Arabia over their indirect support for the Iranian protests. (Source)
    • On the 6th of November 2022, Iran revealed a new improved air defence system amidst rising tensions. (Source)
    • Iran is trying to stir up dissident voices in Saudi Arabia by exploiting the perception Riyadh is increasingly close with Israel. (Source)

    KJ-2: It is likely the recent increase in tension with Iran will provide the US an opportunity to strengthen its diplomatic ties to Saudi Arabia in the next 6 months.

    • Although angered by OPEC cuts to production, the US cannot allow any further disruption to oil supply from the region. (Source)
    • Because of the midterm elections, the US will treat any threat to oil supply seriously. (Source)
    • The strategic partnership between the two nations is too important to risk when Iran is posing a threat. (Source)
    • In response to the Iranian threat, Washington has redeployed multiple combat aircraft to Saudi Arabia. (Source)
    • President Biden is trying to save Saudi-US relations despite calls from Washington to sever them. (Source)
    • The threat from Iran serves as an opportunity for the US and Saudi Arabia to mend their relationship. (Source)
    • There are many US officials who feel harming their relationship with Saudi Arabia would be counterproductive and will utilise this flare up. (Source)

    KJ-3: It is likely Iran will continue to threaten the oil infrastructure in the Gulf in the next 6 months.

    • The US is struggling with oil price rises after OPEC decided to cut production in order to keep prices high in October 2022. (Source)
    • Iran has targeted Saudi oil infrastructure before, such as a drone attack in 2019. (Source)
    • Iran is frustrated over the US sidelining the nuclear talks with them. (Source)

    Intelligence Cut-Off date: 26th of November 2022

    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan is a Third Year War Studies Student at King's College London with a keen interest in the Middle-East and Insurgency.

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