NEW YORK POST - Caitlin Doornbos - OCT 11, 2022
WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia shrugged off pleas by White House officials to delay last week’s OPEC+ decision to slash oil production, with Riyadh viewing the demand as a ploy to “avoid bad news” until after the upcoming midterm elections, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
American officials cautioned the Saudi government that cutting oil production would weaken Washington’s already strained relationship with Riyadh, and that the US would interpret the move as the kingdom taking Russia’s side in its ongoing war on Ukraine, according to the newspaper, which cited unnamed sources.
Instead, the Saudi-led group of oil-producing nations announced it will slash output by 2 million barrels a day, causing a spike in the price of crude oil — with a rise in US gas prices expected to follow.
In response, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez called on the Biden administration to cut all ties with the Middle Eastern nation Tuesday.
“The United States must immediately 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,” Menendez said in a statement. “As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine. Enough is enough.”
Saudi Arabia is the US’ largest foreign military sales customer, with more than $100 billion in active cases, according to the State Department — which in August approved the $3.05 billion sale of 300 Patriot guided tactical ballistic missiles and associated equipment.
Three other House Democrats introduced a bill last week that would pull all US troops and missile defense systems from Saudi Arabia in response to the OPEC+ decision.
“Saudi Arabia[’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,” said Reps. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, Sean Casten of Illinois and Susan Wild of Pennsylvania in a joint statement.
Also on Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois called on Congress to pass the NOPEC Act, which would make “oil-producing and exporting cartels” illegal in the US. The bill, passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May, would also strip foreign leaders of their sovereign immunity in oil cartel cases.
“Saudi Arabia’s collusion with Putin to fix prices will increase gas prices for Americans at a time when inflation is high,” Durbin said on Twitter. “The Senate must take action against price fixing by OPEC and pass this legislation.”
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