PICTURED: Vice President Joe Biden visit to Israel in March 2016. PC: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem. CC 2.0.
WASHINGTON D.C. October 11th, 2022. Following OPEC’s decision to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day, a wave of anti-Saudi sentiment is sweeping Washington that could, for the first time in nearly 50 years, lead to a restructuring of the US-Saudi relationship.
Earlier this year, Biden had flown to Saudi Arabia to request an increase in oil production, reasoning that he commands the army which protects the Saudi oil fields, and that any decrease in production would increase the global price of oil, which has the double effect of dampening economic growth and the more awkward reality of supporting Russia’s economy while it wages illegal war in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Biden got his answer—the largest decrease in oil production since the pandemic started.
Since the Carter Administration, America’s number one security policy has been to protect Saudi Arabia and her oil fields from all manner of hostile actors, whether Iranian, Soviet, or non-aligned brigands real or imagined.
Since 2014 and the political rise of then deputy-Crown Prince now-Prime Minister Mohamad bin-Salman, US-Saudi relations have attracted more scrutiny, led by his sanctioned-murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his disastrous War in Yemen “Operation Decisive Storm,” and more hostile climate change rhetoric targeting America’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Yet Obama gave the green light for the war in Yemen “to placate the Saudis,” Trump supported them through thick and thin, with the outrageous exaggeration of how much money they spend on American weapons, and Biden glossed over all that this genocidal dictatorial theocracy has done during his visit with them this summer.
But there’s something about Russia getting a leg up in the oil market that gets American Congressmen and women out of their seats in a way that between 250,000 and 1,000,000 dead Yemeni children under the age of five just can’t.
First came the White House, whose spokesperson John Kirby said “the president’s been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to re-evaluate, that we need to be willing to revisit”.
“He’s willing to work with Congress to think through what that relationship ought to look like going forward. I don’t think this is anything that’s going to have to wait or should wait, quite frankly, for much longer,” Kirby added.
Then came Senator Bob Menendez, (D – NJ) a hyper-establishment left-wing warhawk and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said Monday that Washington should freeze “all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend U.S. personnel and interests”.
Then on October 5th, Representatives Tom Malinowski (D – NJ), Sean Casten (D – IL), and Susan Wild (D – PA) introduced a bill that would mandate the removal of US troops and missile defense systems from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as relocate the equipment and defense systems to other areas in the Middle East for the purpose of protecting US troops elsewhere.
The three Representatives released a statement saying…
Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s drastic cut in oil production, despite President Biden’s overtures to both countries in recent months, is a hostile act against the United States and a clear signal that they have chosen to side with Russia in its war against Ukraine. Both countries have long relied on an American military presence in the Gulf to protect their security and oil fields. We see no reason why American troops and contractors should continue to provide this service to countries that are actively working against us. If Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to help Putin, they should look to him for their defense.
This is a kind of rhetoric that Washington hasn’t heard in a very long time, and it didn’t stop there.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D – CT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D – CA) wrote an op-ed in Politico, calling the production cut “a pointed blow to the US,” adding that “the US also has a way to respond: It can promptly pause the massive transfer of American warfare technology into the eager hands of the Saudis”.
Lastly, a response has also risen from across the isle. Perhaps even more wounded by the decision given their historic unflinching support of the House of Saud, Republicans are also springing into action.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R – IO) joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – NY) to advance a mockingly named “NOPEC ACT” with the additional co-sponsoring of Mike Lee (R – UT).
“My bipartisan NOPEC Act would crack down on these tactics by the foreign oil cartel,” said Grassley. “It’s already cleared the Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan basis, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t pass as a part of our upcoming defense authorization effort. Our energy supply is a matter of national security”.
In addition to Grassley and Lee, when it cleared the Judiciary Committee, it did so with the support of GOP Senators Lindsey Graham (SC), Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Tom Cotton (AK) Marsha Blackburn (TN). WaL
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