President Biden’s administration urged Saudi Arabia to delay cutting oil production by one month, putting it behind the midterm elections, the country said Thursday.
The Saudi government, which leads the OPEC oil conglomerate, rejected appeals from the U.S. last week and moved forward with cutting oil production, potentially causing gas prices to spike in the U.S. before Election Day.
“The government of the kingdom clarified through its continuous consultation with the US administration that all economic analysis indicates that postponing the Opec+ decision by a month, according to what has been suggested, would have had negative economic consequences,” read a Thursday statement from the Saudis, according to the Guardian.
The Biden administration responded to the decision with outrage, declaring Wednesday that the U.S. would “reassess” its relationship with the Saudis.
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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre went so far as to accuse the Saudis of siding with Russia on Tuesday. She announced Biden’s plans to take a step back from the long U.S. alliance with the Saudi government, though both the president and the administration have refused to offer details on potential actions.
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In addition to potential electoral fallout in the U.S., many European countries are facing strained energy supplies this year as Russia has limited exports in retaliation to Western economic sanctions over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We believe by the decision that OPEC+ made last week, (Saudi Arabia is) certainly aligning themselves with Russia,” Jean-Pierre said during a Tuesday briefing at the White House. “And right now, this is not the time to be aligning with Russia, especially with this brutal, unprecedented war that they started in Ukraine.”
Biden’s allies in Congress are also pushing for him to make a move against the Saudis. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., called on the White House to “immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia” on Monday. He added that the U.S. should consider cutting off arms sales to the country.
“There simply is no room to play both sides of this conflict – either you support the rest of the free world in trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping off an entire country off of the map, or you support him,” Menendez wrote. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest.”
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Biden himself confirmed that he is exploring “consequences” for Saudi Arabia in an interview on Tuesday.
“There’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done with Russia,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview released Tuesday. “I’m not going to get into what I’d consider and what I have in mind. But there will be consequences.”
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