The real reason Saudi Arabia doesn't want warmer U.S./Iran relations

Oil is not the only Western business waiting for sanctions to fall in order to profit from a broad Iranian market. Less than a year after French automobile company Renault was forced out of Iran by U.S.-led sanctions, General Motors has been engaging in intensifying talks with Iran Khodro, the leading Iranian auto manufacturer, according to a report in Le Figaro. Other American companies have already been doing business in Iran under a shroud of secrecy—our sister site, Quartz, tallied at least $540 million in revenue for American companies doing business in Iran in 2012—and could enter fully if sanctions were lifted.

Certainly, regional politics are a worry for Saudi Arabia when it comes to Iran, but a direct threat to the Kingdom’s pocketbook is far more moving. For a country where petroleum exports account for roughly 90 percent of revenue, the prospect of a rival’s profit at great economic cost to Saudi Arabia demands action. Saudi Arabia’s recent polemic is largely a reaction to this threat and will not be mollified as long as Iran’s return to the international system is a possibility.