Saudi Arabia strongly rejected US accusations that last week’s oil production cut by the OPEC+ was to hurt the US exactly at a time when the whole west needs more oil amid Russia-Ukraine war.
Last week, when the OPEC+ announced its decision to cut oil production by two million barrels a day from November, the White House quickly reacted, with President Joe Biden promising “consequences” for OPEC’s top producer Saudi Arabia for the oil cut.
“I’m not going to get into what I’d consider and what I have in mind. But there will be – there will be consequences,” Biden told CNN in a rare televised interview last Wednesday when he was asked about the nature of possible responses by Washington.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also threatened Riyadh with countermeasures, saying that “we are not only deeply disappointed in that, we think it’s short sighted. And as the president has made very clear, that decision has to have consequences and that’s something that we’re reviewing as we speak,” Blinken told reporters.
This Thursday, however, Saudi Arabia strongly denied any ant-US anterior motif behind the oil cut decision, expressing that it was not taking sides over Russia’s invasion of Western-backed Ukraine as Washington believes.
“Saudi Arabia has viewed the statements … which have described the decision as the kingdom taking sides in international conflicts and that it was politically motivated against the United States,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The statement also insisted that last week’s decision by OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, were taken “purely on economic considerations” and its economic advice had been to resist calls to delay the production cut. “The government of the kingdom clarified through its continuous consultation with the US administration that all economic analyses indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month … would have had negative economic consequences,” the ministry said.
Washington still insists to punish Saudi Arabia
Despite the strong rejection of any siding with Russia behind the oil cut decision by Saudi Arabia, many Democrats on Capitol Hill asserted that Riyadh must be punished for the move. Some even suggested that in the wake of what they call a “turning point” in Washington’s relationship with the kingdom, the transfer of US weapons systems to Saudi Arabia be suspended and instead, the military equipment be sent to Ukraine.
Ro Khanna, for example, a Democratic congressman from California who is a leading supporter of a weapons freeze for Saudi Arabia, said that “at the very least” Congress would move to halt the transfer of Patriot missiles to the kingdom, and probably pause other defense initiatives.
Likewise, Chris Murphy, an influential Democratic senator from Connecticut, said that Washington must suspend the sale of advanced air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia and repurpose these missiles to Ukraine.
“For several years, the US military had deployed Patriot missile defense batteries to Saudi Arabia to help defend oil infrastructure against missile and drone attacks. These advanced air and missile defense systems should be redeployed to bolster the defenses of eastern flank Nato allies like Poland and Romania – or transferred to our Ukrainian partners,” Murphy said in a statement this Friday.
To make matters even worse for the US, it is still uncertain for how long Saudi Arabia intends to extend the oil cut. But if the White House and Congress truly put into practice their recent threats against the Kingdom, it could very well make Saudi decision makers take even harsher steps to hurt the energy-hungry United States.