Biden Vows Consequences for Saudi Arabia In the Wake of OPEC+ Cutbacks

In News
Saudi Arabia

President Joe Biden vowed on Tuesday that the OPEC+ decision would have ramifications for US relations with Saudi Arabia. According to the State Department, the US has a keen eye on Iran amid Saudi review.

According to the State Department, the US has a keen eye on Iran amid Saudi review.

In Summary:

  • US President Joe Biden says the US will rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia. In response to US concerns, OPEC+ said last week that it would cut its oil production target.
  • The US said that Saudi Arabia was groveling to Russia, which doesn’t like it when the West puts price caps on oil from Russia.
  • During a July visit to Jeddah, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Joe Biden talked about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on July 19, 2022 [KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s de facto leader.

President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that OPEC+’s decision last week to cut its oil production target in response to US concerns “will have consequences” for US relations with Saudi Arabia.

The day before, powerful Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the US must stop all cooperation with Saudi Arabia right away, including selling arms.

Biden wouldn’t tell CNN’s Jake Tapper what options he was considering in an interview.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, said that a policy review would be done, but she didn’t say when it would happen or who would lead it. She said that the US will keep a close eye on the situation “in the coming weeks and months.”

The Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said that the OPEC+ decision was made for economic reasons only and was approved by all member states unanimously.

Saudi Arabia
John Kirby, national security council coordinator, during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. [Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

The Saudi-led cartel announced a significant reduction in oil output targets.

“OPEC+ members did the right thing and made the right choice,” Prince Faisal said on Al Arabiya TV.

After US officials pushed back against such a move for weeks, OPEC+, the group of oil producers that includes Russia, announced the production targets.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US said Saudi Arabia was groveling to Russia. Russia doesn’t want the West to put a cap on the price of Russian oil.

US officials had been trying in secret to get Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to drop the idea of cutting oil production.

Upon landing in Jeddah, US President Joe Biden met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al Salman Palace. During Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia in July, Bin Salman and Biden clashed over the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Saudi Arabia
US President Joe Biden (L) being welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15, 2022. [Royal Court of Saudi Arabia / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]

Eye On Iran

US intelligence says that the crown prince gave the go-ahead for a plan to capture or kill Khashoggi, a former Saudi insider turned critic who was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The prince, who is King Salman’s oldest son, has said he didn’t order the killing. Biden said in July that he told the prince that he thought he was to blame.

John Kirby, the White House’s national security spokesman, said that Biden will work with Congress “to think through what that relationship should look like going forward.”

“And I think he will be ready to start having those talks right away. I don’t think this can or should be put off for long “Kirby added.

On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the review would include Iran, which is an adversary of the US and a fierce rival of Saudi Arabia in the region. 

Most of the US arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been made in response to Iran’s threat in the region.

“There are worries about security, some of which have to do with Iran. Iran is a threat not only to the region but also in some ways to the rest of the world. We won’t forget that “said Price.

Prince Faisal says that military cooperation between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is good for both countries.

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