Amid worries that Russia’s armed intervention in Syria signals a new Cold War between Russia and the West, another and related rematch appears in the offing. If Russia and Iran are Syrian President Assad’s strongest foreign backers, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies surely number among his and Iran’s most implacable foes. The implications of a potential Russo-Saudi proxy war for international oil markets are significant.
There is little doubt that such a conflict is brewing. Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly meeting last week, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, pointedly stated that “There is a moderate Syrian opposition that is fighting against President Assad. We expect this support [for those rebels] will continue and be intensified.” Saudi support can take at least two possible forms.