Iranian President’s trip to Gulf States looks for political and economic pay-offs


As Iran maneuvers for position with Gulf States, President Hassan Rouhani is visiting Oman and Kuwait on Wednesday.

Rouhani’s press spokesman Parviz Esmaeili said Monday that Rouhani will lead a “high-ranking delegation” to Muscat at the invitation of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said al=Said for closed-door discussions.

Esmaeili said Rouhani will depart for Kuwait City later on Wednesday at the invitation of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. Talks are planned with Prime Minister Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah.

Tehran is looking to the Gulf, an important hub for both imports and exports, for revived trade amid continued US-led financial restrictions after the July 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran has also been hoping to work with Gulf State to offset tensions with Saudi Arabia, which broke relations with the Islamic Republic in January 2016 following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric and a crowd attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

In January, the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister travelled to Tehran for discussions, the first visit by a senior official of a Gulf State after the Saudi cut-off of relations.

MP: New Foreign Oil Contracts Shelved

An Iranian MP has claimed a major setback for the Government’s economic program with the shelving of new oil contracts with foreign companies.

Hedayatollah Khademi, a member of Parliament’s Energy Committee, said on Tuesday that the Iran Petroleum Contract has been laid aside: “The new model of oil contracts has been shelved after ratification, and no contract has been signed under these new models.”

He said foreign companies have only signed memoranda of understanding, which are non-binding on either side.

The Iran Petroleum Contract is meant to entice foreign investment by granting companies an equity share in the oilfields; however, the negotiations have been protracted for months by details such as the length of contract, as well as objections by entities such as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who have a significant economic stake in the fields.

Khademi pointed to problems in a statement by the chief executive of France’s Total last Thursday. Patrick Pouyanné said projects could be approved by the summer, but this depended on the renewal of US sanctions waivers.

The Trump Administration has signalled a harder line on Iran, which could include refusal of the waivers, which were regularly granted by the Obama Administration to preclude the crippling effect of Congressional legislation.

Total was the first Western energy company to sign a memorandum of understand with Tehran after implementation of the July 2015 nuclear agreement.