Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Oil in Saudi-Iranian Relations Under the US Heg...

Electronic data

  • 2021SukruCildirPhD

    Final published version, 2.55 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 16/11/26

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Oil in Saudi-Iranian Relations Under the US Hegemony: 1990-2020

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2021
Number of pages293
Awarding Institution
Award date16/11/2021
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This study will examine how Saudi Arabia and Iran use oil as an arena in their relations between 1990 and 2020. It will argue that oil has been an arena in Saudi-Iranian relations rather than being a merely energy commodity, and the international factors including the divergent positions of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the US-led international system and their domestic socio-political structures determine the ways in which oil is used as an incentivising, coercing or punishing arena in their relations. This thesis is going to use the term ‘arena’ to capture the idea that political economy of oil can be seen as a distinct set of socio-economic and political interactions that determine the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The word ‘arena’ identifies the focus of the relations in each specific period including rapprochement (1990-2003), rising rivalry (2003-2010) and hostility (2010-2020), and sheds light on the existence of a broader social, political and economic aspects of oil that shape the Saudi-Iranian relations.
To this end, it will adopt the Historical Sociology of International Relations (HSIR) and the political economy perspective of Susan Strange along with her structural power concept as a theoretical framework. Combining two research traditions, the thesis aims to have a deeper understanding of why and how oil was used as an arena by drawing on their theoretical insights complementary to each other to explain international phenomena. Building over both primary and secondary sources, this study will employ a mixed research method using both qualitative and quantitative technics and a comparative case study by providing a comparison of the three specific periods and the foreign policies of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Through a processual analysis of the Saudi-Iranian relations, it will demonstrate that the relations are not fixed with conflicts or collaboration, but rather they are bound to change and transformation over time, which paves the way for different ways of using oil.