The US-Saudi relations have witnessed an unprecedented deterioration in the past few days. It came after OPEC Plus had decided to reduce its oil production by 2 million barrels in the coming period. Certainly, this decision had negative effects on the Joe Biden administration, as this decision would raise fuel prices as the midterm congress elections are approaching. This will weaken the Democrats’ situation in the elections. And because the current US administration is incapable of managing crises, as many previous events have proven, it hastened to inflame the situation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a disgraceful manner. This is where the United States accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia and inciting the rest of the OPEC Plus group to take such a decision, which would increase inflation rates in the United States of America significantly.
To respond to these accusations, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued a firm statement strongly denying these allegations and confirming that the Kingdom was not involved in any geopolitical conflicts, stressing its clear position in the Security Council against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Saudi Arabia clarified in the statement that the decisions of OPEC Plus are collective decisions with the approval of all member states and that the only goal of these decisions is to maintain market balance in light of the lack of clarity of vision for the state of global markets and oil markets in particular at present. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also confirmed that the organization’s decisions are not politicized in any way and are purely economic decisions.
More importantly, and also undoubtedly, the rise in oil prices is not the only factor responsible for the rise in global prices, higher inflation rates, and the current crisis that the whole world is currently experiencing. The main reason for what the world is witnessing now is the uncalculated American provocations against Russia that have put the whole world in this predicament today.
In addition, the high rates of inflation in the United States have other reasons more important than the rise in oil prices. The most important of these reasons is the failure of the monetary policies of the Biden administration so far to control inflation rates. Also, the crisis is definitely due to the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, which led to a severe shortage of Russian oil and gas supplies.
It is also worth noting that the rise in the prices of natural gas and coal far exceeded the rise in oil prices. For example, the price of natural gas in the European Union last month amounted to 347 pounds. The price of a tonne of coal also amounted to $341, $325, $207 in China, the European Union, and the United States, respectively.
Despite this, the Joe Biden administration is trying to falsify the facts and blame the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in an attempt to create excuses and justifications for the grave mistakes of this administration in front of the American voter. To make matters worse, the Biden administration is making too many threats to punish Saudi Arabia. For example, the current administration is threatening to pass the NOPEC bill, which would (if passed) lift the immunity of OPEC members and their oil companies, allowing them to be sued for complicity in raising prices. The head of the Senate foreign relations committee, Senator Bob Menendez, also called for a suspension of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Three Democratic lawmakers in Congress also introduced a bill to end US protection and withdraw US forces from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
In fact, all these loud threats, which are actually said to support Democrats for the upcoming elections, cannot be achieved on the ground, according to the opinions of many analysts and politicians as well. As for the NOPEC bill, research confirms that it will harm the US oil and gas industry in the first place. This is because it will lead to a drop in the price of oil to the point that it will not be enough to cover the costs of extracting gas. Thus, the oil industry in the United States can stop, because the costs of extracting oil in the United States of America are very high, compared to the costs of extracting gas in Saudi Arabia.
As for the suspension of arms sales, it is certainly a decision that works against US interests. This is because Saudi Arabia is one of the most important importers of American weapons. According to a report issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia’s import of American weapons amounted to 24% of the total exports for the year 2021.
Also, the threat to withdraw US forces from Saudi Arabia and the UAE is nonsense. This is because the United States had already withdrawn its forces from Saudi Arabia in 2003. Therefore, this threat will not be effective. The United States of America always deliberately ignores the fact that American protection in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates is to serve American interests, the most important of which is of course the free flow of gas and oil.
More importantly, such provocative threats may push Saudi Arabia to dispense with the United States as a strategic ally and rely on other countries for armament and protection, such as Russia and China undoubtedly.
Apparently, all the threats of the Biden administration are mere rhetoric, as the Biden administration will not be able to implement any of them. It will end, as usual, with a simple statement of condemnation of the situation, which weakens the position of the Democratic Party in the upcoming elections on the one hand, and undermines the position of the United States globally on the other hand. This is especially since the position of the United States has been greatly dwarfed during the Biden administration because of his repeated slips of the tongue and his false heroic statements that raise the ridicule of the world.
Dr. Marwa El-Shinawy: Assistant Professor at International American University for Specialized Studies (IAUS)