The Doha Talks between the Organisation of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) and Russia have come to naught. The failure to agree on an oil-freeze in the OPEC meeting on Monday shows how much the international market has transformed ever since the entry of Iran into the fray as well as shale oil drilling by the US. Oil was once the major reason why the Kingdom and Gulf countries were handled with kid gloves in the West, but times have changed and these countries find themselves becoming increasingly irrelevant.

With oil prices nosediving, the OPEC countries prospective freeze will stem the decline, but Iran's lack of interest will make the freeze less effective. Additionally, while other countries are more flexible about the inclusion of Iran into the freeze, Saudi Arabia refuses to budge. It would be sad if this was an extension of the foreign policy tactics Saudi Arabia normally employs when Iran is concerned; to set itself on the opposing end of whatever demand Iran makes.

The glut of crude in the international market is continuously driving the prices down, and the exporters are naturally concerned for their profits. OPEC has thrived on its strict oil-export policies and has kept both demand and supply at an equilibrium. However, experts claim that the current drop in prices is not only due to the excess demand, but on the speculation that a freeze is likely to come soon, which would drive up the prices anyway. Hence ironically, it is OPECs own policy patterns that are also leading to an undesirable consequence.

However, the freeze, if it had been imposed by now, would have counteracted this.

On its part, Iran is justified in not wanting to freeze its export so soon after sanctions were finally lifted. If the objective is to freeze oil output in the market, then Iran needs to participate. However, the freeze is not the end itself, but a means to restore confidence in the market, and establish tat OPEC is still largely in control. For this, Iran need not stop its supply, for the freeze is mostly ceremonial. The continuous low prices of oil have already started to drive small producers out of the oil market. While this in itself is one of the negative consequences, consumers at large have mostly benefitted from the falling prices all across the globe. What has always been a suppliers market has suddenly been turned over on its head, and bickering between the oil producing companies is doing nothing to dispel this impression. It is important to remember that the international economy is always erratic and speculation is always a factor, and the clear evidence of division in the ranks of OPEC is damaging in the extreme. OPEC has had its day in the sun, and now, the oil producing countries will have to look to other avenues to buoy their slowly stagnating economies.