A few days after the OPEC+ alliance announced a 2 million-cut in oil production, many Democrats rebuked the move, calling for Biden to rethink relations with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members.
It was last week on Wednesday that the OPEC+ alliance announced its intention to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day. The move, which represents the largest cut in production since the start of the pandemic, is very likely to increase global gas prices once again amid huge gas shortage in the West.
The OPEC+ decision was quickly criticized by Washington. In a statement this past Thursday, the Biden administration said it was disappointed in the decision, calling it “shortsighted” in light of global energy prices already lifted higher by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; “At a time when maintaining global supply of energy is of paramount importance, this development will have the most negative impact on lower- and middle-income countries that are already reeling from elevated energy prices,” the statement said.
President Biden himself told reporters on the same day that he was disappointed in the decision by OPEC+ and said, “We’re looking at what alternatives we might have,” he said.
Then on Tuesday, the US president promised to impose “consequences” on Saudi Arabia for teaming up with Russia to cut oil production, signaling a rupture in the relationship between two longtime allies; “There’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done with Russia,” Mr. Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview broadcast Tuesday night.
Good to mention that oil prices affect not just the price at the pump but also the cost of virtually everything in our fossil fuel-dependent economy, and are a major driver of inflation.
US lawmakers reacted too
Some Democrats in Congress also reacted to the oil production cut directed by Saudi Arabia and called to reexamine US ties with key oil producers, and even proposed withdrawal of US military support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
A number of House Democrats such as Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild, Illinois Rep. Sean Casten and New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski, all called the move “a hostile act” and a “turning point” in the relationship between the US and the two Gulf states, introducing legislation to remove US military support from the two countries.
In this regard, Malinowski said; “I just don’t see any good reason for us to maintain troops that are there almost solely for the purpose of protecting their oil fields and their security interest. It just doesn’t make sense to me.” He also noted that he believes the move was “deliberate” to hurt the U.S. as it supports Ukraine in the war the Russian invasion and deserves a swift response.
“There’s no question that MBS [Mohammed bin Salman], particularly the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, shares Putin’s worldview more than he shares ours. He doesn’t appreciate American advocacy for democracy in the world.” Malinowski added.
More practical measures against Riyadh
The OPEC+ move was met also with practical reactions from Washington. Through a letter from the American embassy in Riyadh, the Biden administration announced this Tuesday that it has cancelled a meeting between the United States and Saudi Arabia that was planned to take place in Riyadh on Iran missile program.
“The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretariat and hereby informs the Gulf Cooperation Council that United States officials will not be able to participate in the planned meetings of the United States – Gulf Cooperation Council Working Group on Iran Integrated Air and Missile Defense,” the letter read.
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