The more efforts the president biden for ingratiating himself with Saudi Arabia -which during his electoral campaign he had come to describe in 2018 as a “pariah regime”- received more rudeness from the strong man of the authoritarian regime, the crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman. The penultimate was the decision of the OPECthe club of the main oil producing countries commanded by the Riyadh regime, to drastically reduce its crude oil production to avoid a fall in the price of a barrel in international markets.
The request from the White House to the Saudis to increase their production had a double objective: to reduce Moscow’s oil income, with which this finance the war in Ukraine; and using oil to alleviate the shortage of gas and the increase in its price due to the blackmailing of the West that President Putin is planning for this winter.
None of these reasons have moved the Saudis with compassion, who have followed the Russian interestsor rather their own economic interests, at the OPEC summit in Vienna, the first face-to-face meeting of that organization after the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia’s response is a slap in the face of Joe Biden’s efforts to fawn over the crown prince, whom he visited in Riyadh last July to personally ask him to increase oil production. In return, the US president ignored his previous criticism of Bin Salman, whom the CIA itself held responsible for the brutal murder of the dissident journalist. kashoggi in 2018.
The White House announced that Riyadh had committed to increasing its oil production by 750,000 barrels a day, and was counting on United Arab Emirates would raise his another 500,000 barrels. The effect of this increase would be a drop in the price of gas, and a setback to Putin’s energy income, with which he finances the war in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, OPEC considered that, with this increase, the price of a barrel of oil it would drop from $120 to $80, and he agreed not only to avoid an increase in production but even to approve a 2 percent cut to keep the price up. Russia, the second OPEC country, and Iran, which has closed ranks with Moscow (selling it drones for war), applauded Saudi Arabia’s decision to back the drop. Riyadh justifies the breaking of its verbal agreement with Biden on “non-personal” reasons: the Saud regime considers that a reduction in its oil revenues would damage its finances and could break social peace. A large part of the Saudi citizenry lives off public subsidies generated by oil.
Biden’s strategy of not criticizing Riyadh for its human rights abuses to obtain economic gains it could soon take its toll on him in the mid-term elections, but above all it weakens the role of the United States in the Middle East. The weakness of the Democratic Administration increasingly inclines the Saudi absolute monarchy to change its historical US sponsorship for that of Russia and Iran, which also share with Riyadh the interest in maintaining the world’s dependence on oil.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism