Kabul: President Biden wants to take a closer look at the longstanding U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia after after OPEC+ decided to cut oil production last week, a decision the White House said was not warranted and mainly serves to help Russia.
“I am in the process, when the House and Senate comes back, there’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done with Russia,” he told CNN Tuesday night, but declined to elaborate on what those consequences might be.
Earlier in the day, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Saudi Arabia played a key role in that production cut. He said Biden wants to discuss the future of U.S.-Saudi Arabia relations with Congress, and whether those ties still serve the national interest.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced it would reduce production by 2 million barrels per day, a move seen by some as a method of punishing the United States and its continued support of Ukraine.
Riyadh maintain that the decision was prompted by market conditions — and denied it was meant to target Washington.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the OPEC+ decision was purely economic and was taken unanimously by its member states.
“OPEC+ members acted responsibly and took the appropriate decision,” Prince Faisal told the Al Arabiya television channel.
The tensions between the two countries come as Biden and his fellow Democrats appeared to benefit from falling gas prices four weeks before the midterms. The OPEC decision could push gas prices higher, affecting Democrats’ electoral prospects in a campaign in which inflation has emerged as a top issue for voters.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have had a close relationship since 1940, with shared interests in regional security and energy, according to the U.S. State Department. However, the U.S. has been critical of the kingdom in recent years because of the Saudi track record on human rights.
Biden had promised when he ran for office that he would hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights abuses, including the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
U.S. intelligence says the crown prince approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi, a Saudi insider-turned-critic, who was murdered and dismembered by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.