After Biden’s failed attempts to save Saudi oil ahead of U.S. midterm elections, he reverted to futile human rights admonitions
US President Joe Biden has threatened “consequences” over Riyadh’s decision to cut oil production, a move that embarrassed the leader of the Democratic Party. Saudi Arabia’s provocative move, however, may be much more complex than it appears.
Washington has been up in arms since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a longtime US partner in the Middle East, pushed for oil production cuts at an OPEC+ meeting earlier in October. . The consequences were immediately apparent — as Biden leads his party into November’s midterm elections, oil prices will not drop, hurting his hopes of defeating Republicans at the polls. Prominent Democrats began firing tirades against the Kingdom, outraged that the Saudis’ decision could affect the election results.
OPEC+’s decision earlier this month to cut production to a level not seen since 2020 was instantly characterized by Washington as Saudi Arabia sided with Russia at the expense of the West. To make matters worse for Biden, Riyadh has reportedly expressed interest in joining the BRICS economic alliance, currently made up of South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Saudi Arabia has denied making decisions to side with Russia, saying it was particularly “surprised” on allegations that he was taking a stand against Ukraine.
Although the Saudi decision to cut production is undoubtedly a blow for the West, especially as Europe continues to suffer from energy shortages, this decision was probably not intended as a political position. on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, supported by NATO. On the contrary, the message can be interpreted as an anti-Democratic position, rather than an anti-American one.
Although the rhetoric has shifted in Washington to reflect the initial position of the Biden administration when it took office, now focusing on human rights abuses and the autocratic nature of the Saudi state, the real reason for this is not a real concern. Biden has even reportedly asked the Saudi government for a concession so that the oil production cut won’t come into effect until after the election, according to Riyadh. But with attempts to postpone the OPEC+ decision proving futile, the US president is now forced to address oil prices in order to salvage the votes his party stands to lose on the issue before November 8. .
The Republican Party is clearly supportive of the Saudis’ regional agenda, with former President Donald Trump making the Kingdom the destination of his first trip abroad. Trump, who still holds significant influence in the Republican Party, was a strong ally of the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates when he was in power. Through lobbying efforts and other forms of pressure on the Republican Party, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi seemed pleased with the results achieved. Notably, Thomas Barrack, who served as an unofficial adviser to the Trump administration, has been accused of being a foreign agent of the Emirati government for his role in influencing the former president on major foreign policy issues, and may have significantly reshaped the approach Saudi Arabia and the UAE have taken to their own regional power.
Then there is the hypocritical approach of the Biden administration. The US president said in his first speech on his administration’s foreign policy agenda that he would hold Riyadh to account for its human rights abuses and work to end the war in Yemen. Biden said offensive arms sales and other relevant weapons to Saudi Arabia would be canceled, but arms sales approved later that same year.
In 2022, the war in Yemen is far from over and Biden ended up going to Saudi Arabia in order to mend US-Saudi relations. The July trip included a sit-in at an Arab summit meeting, where the president vowed not to “to go away” from the Middle-East. This was accompanied by news that Washington was preparing to reconsider offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia once again, although the trip did not result in any tangible benefits for global and/or regional agendas. the United States. In fact, about a week before the last OPEC+ oil production cut, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States had reached a new high amid reports of US investor encouragement. to travel to Saudi Arabia; it came after the Kingdom was involved in a prisoner swap deal between Russia and Ukraine.
Responding to calls from prominent Democrats to sever ties, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, listed the following things that bind US-Saudi relations, in an interview with CNN:
“We have nearly 80,000 Americans living and working in Saudi Arabia. We have a very strong trade and investment relationship. We are working very closely to ensure our common interests, whether it is to bring peace to Yemen, whether it is to bring peace between Israelis and Arabs, whether it is to stabilize Afghanistan, whether it is to reintegrate Iraq into the Arab fold, whether it is to bring stability in the Horn of Africa, whether it is to bring stability and peace to Libya and to the G5 countries of the Sahel, whether it is to fight against extremism and terrorism. These interests are permanent and these interests are enormous.
The reason this statement is remarkable is its clear demonstration of the power the United States can harness through its relationship with Riyadh. The two sides have been linked at the hip since the discovery of oil in 1938, with this relationship improving dramatically after the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979. However, Saudi Arabia did not rest and allowed states of simply profiting from it, buying up most of the US oil market itself and ensuring that its impact on regional affairs cemented its role as a major regional player, not just an international gas station .
While the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, committed at home and abroad, are heinous, the Biden administration clearly has no interest in them. That’s why US-Saudi relations have only soured now, with oil prices and partisan election issues at stake, presenting yet another embarrassment to the White House. During Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the president reportedly tried to bring up the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to the Saudi account, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hit back at Biden by pointing to the Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by US forces – the message being: Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. US-Saudi relations are here to stay unless Washington tries to fuel another war for regime change, a move that would prove catastrophic for US interests.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.