Lower oil prices, reflected in falling petrol prices at the pump, have been a boon for Western consumers. Are they also a potent US weapon against Russia and Iran?
That’s the conclusion drawn by New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, who says the US and Saudi Arabia, whether by accident or design, could be pumping Russia and Iran to brink of economic collapse.
Despite turmoil in many of the world’s oil-producing countries – Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria – prices are hitting lows not seen in years, Friedman writes.
Analysts identify a number of possible reasons for the steep drop – increased US production, slowing economies in Europe and China and steady production from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).
Rather than look at the causes, however, Friedman says to look at the result – budget shortfalls in Russia and Iran – and what it means.