Iraq Rejects US Threats, Backs Saudis on Oil Production

US struggles to bring influence to bare with Mideast allies

Generations of warfare and propping up client states were supposed to give the US broad influence in the Middle East. Energy issues stemming from the Russia-Ukraine War saw the US trying to keep OPEC nations, especially Saudi Arabia, producing at a high level.

OPEC production is focused on profits, and the Saudis are snubbing the US over trying agitate for more oil production. Hopes of swaying Iraq don’t seem to be going well either.

The US had been pressuring Iraq on OPEC production, with implied threats of repercussions. Given Iraq is just a generation removed from being destroyed by US sanctions that could be an important influence.

Instead Iraq’s Foreign Ministry doubled down on supporting OPEC and the Saudis, saying the nation has to protect its interests by working together to stabilize the oil market. A stable oil market does not mean low prices, as the US was hoping.

More in Congress are expressing annoyance at the Saudi defiance on this matter, and  while Biden says he views the lack of oil production as a “hostile act,” the near term consequences are likely to be minimal.

The US seems to be trying to manage oil prices with the strategic reserve. This is likely more practical and impactful in the near-term than anything angry diplomacy is liable to pull off.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.