Regarding the relationship [with Saudi Arabia] going forward, we are reviewing a number of response options. We are consulting closely with Congress,” said Blinken from Lima as part of his tour of Latin America.
The comment came after OPEC +, an organization of which Riyadh is a part, made the decision to cut oil production by two million barrels per day.
Hours before the announcement, the White House issued strong statements in which it assured that cutting production would be a “total disaster” and a “hostile gesture.” The reaction was swift.
“The president is disappointed with this short-sighted decision” and “will consult with Congress on tools that could help reduce OPEC+ control over energy prices,” reads the statement on the official White House website.
Now, Biden has called on US oil tankers to lower fuel prices, although during the election campaign he promised to close them:
“I guarantee you, we are going to end fossil fuels.” To contain prices, the president gave the green light to the use of strategic reserves, which could be interpreted as an attempt to avoid a resounding defeat in the mid-term elections that will be held in a month.
Although various pundits and even politicians like White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre have seen the Kremlin’s hand in the OPEC+ resolution, Saudi Arabia had its own reasons for this decision.
And not all of them are cheap.
It is even possible that the cut is motivated by several hostile actions on the part of Washington. And it is that the Biden Administration has accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of personally ordering the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, has stopped the arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and has removed the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations.
Likewise, he has resumed negotiations with Tehran on a new nuclear agreement, among other decisions. During the electoral campaign, Biden warned that relations between Washington and Riyadh would change under his mandate, to the point that Saudi Arabia would become a “country pariah” of the international community for the case of the murdered journalist.
For its part, the Arab country has repeatedly denied any involvement of the crown prince in Khashoggi’s death and has rejected a 2021 US intelligence report, which stated that Bin Salman “approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey , to capture or assassinate” the opposition journalist.
In any case, throughout 2022 the energy crisis has put the US in a difficult position. The US president seems to have forgotten his threats and last July he visited the kingdom, an act that earned him criticism in the US itself for the lack of consistency between his actions and his promises.
Statement from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and NEC Director Brian Deese
Biden said he told Mohammed bin Salman he was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder when the Saudi ruler denied involvement to his face