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US President Biden to act ‘methodically’ in response to Saudi Arabia over oil cuts

October 18, 2022 at 9:18 am

President Joe Biden in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States on September 05, 2022 [Heather Mull/Anadolu Agency]

The United States administration of President Joe Biden will act “methodically” in its response to Saudi Arabia’s oil production cuts, as tensions between the two allies continue to grow more strained over the Kingdom’s exercising of its resources.

Speaking to the broadcaster, CNN, yesterday, White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, stated that Biden “isn’t going [to] act precipitously. He is going to act methodically, strategically and he’s going to take his time to consult with members of both parties and also to have an opportunity for Congress to return so that he can sit with them in person and work through the options”.

Those options, Sullivan said, “Include changes to our approach to security assistance to Saudi Arabia, but I’m not going to get ahead of the President. What I will say is there’s nothing imminent”. Washington’s security assistance to Riyadh includes billions of dollars worth of air defence missiles sales, at least $126.6 billion in active government-to-government sales cases under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system and around 3,000 American troops stationed in the Kingdom.

Since the decision earlier this month by the Saudi-led Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) to cut the production and output of crude oil by an amount equal to around 2 per cent of the global supply, the US accused the Kingdom of siding with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

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By agreeing to the cuts, according to Washington, Riyadh is assisting Russia – another prominent member of OPEC+ – as it apparently undermines Western countries’ plans to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil exports and enables Moscow to circumvent sanctions.

The cuts in oil production are also a defiance of Biden’s plea to the Kingdom in August to increase the output of crude oil, in order to alleviate the global energy crisis and a shortage of fuel supplies. Critics of Washington and other western nations’ policies, however, stress that those countries are making demands on the Gulf States, while simultaneously cutting their own domestic energy production.

For its part, Saudi Arabia has denied that the move was political or out of support for Russia, insisting it was an economic attempt to prevent volatility in the global oil markets and that it was not in touch with Russia prior to or during the decision.

Despite that, Biden vowed to impose “consequences” on the Kingdom, and US Senator Bob Menendez – a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – called for a freeze to all cooperation with the Gulf State, including on most US arms sales to it.

According to Sullivan, Biden also does not plan to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, at a G20 leaders summit in Indonesia in November.

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