Saudi Arabia ‘tricked’ Washington over secret oil deal – media – Reuters
President Biden’s administration reportedly thought it had a promise from Riyadh to increase oil production, but supplies were cut instead
President Joe Biden reportedly made his controversial July visit to Saudi Arabia, breaking a campaign promise to avoid the kingdom because his administration believed it had struck a secret deal for Riyadh to boost oil supplies. Instead, Riyadh did the opposite, leading OPEC to cut production targets.
The production boost was expected to come from September through the end of this year, helping to dampen inflation and justify Biden’s trip to Riyadh, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing interviews with unidentified government officials. from the United States and the Middle East. Earlier this month, OPEC announced plans to cut production by two million barrels a day, creating upward pressure on prices and potentially increasing the risk that the Biden-led Democratic Party will lose control. control of Congress in the US midterm elections in November.
Several U.S. lawmakers have responded by suggesting that Washington should punish Saudi Arabia by cutting off arms sales or cutting its military support for the kingdom. Biden accused Riyadh of siding with Russia in the Ukraine dispute and warned of retaliation, saying, « There will be consequences. »
Members of Congress who had received classified information about the secret oil deal « They remained furious that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had tricked the administration, » says the Times. US officials told the newspaper that even days before the OPEC announcement, bin Salman assured them there would be no production cuts. When later learned that Saudi Arabia had reversed its position on the matter, administration officials tried unsuccessfully to « change your mind at the royal court. »
Saudi officials said earlier this month that OPEC’s decision was based solely on economic considerations, not politics, and that Washington had tried to delay the decision for several weeks. Such a delay could have postponed the announcement beyond November 8, the date of the mid-terms. Inflation in the United States remains near its highest level in 40 years and ranks as the top concern of American voters, according to a poll.
Biden said during his presidential campaign in 2019 that he would treat Saudi Arabia as a « pariah » and make it « pay the price » for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Times said even some of his staunchest supporters argued that Biden’s decision to meet bin Salman anyway, after his administration thought he struck a secret oil deal in May, was the latest example. of « sacrificing principles for political expediency – and having little to show for it. »
“There is now a level of embarrassment as the Saudis happily continue on their way,” said U.S. Representative Gerald Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia.
Biden publicly denied in June that he would ask Saudi officials to increase oil supplies. « What’s happened over the past semester is a story of handshake deals, wishful thinking, missed signals and pointing fingers at broken promises, » says the Times.
Saudi Arabia slams US for manipulating oil prices