Saudi Arabia on Thursday shot back at the Biden administration for its criticism of OPEC’s decision to reduce oil production and said it “totally rejected” the US characterization of the move.
Biden administration officials have said that Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations have aligned with Russia by agreeing to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day, but the Saudis reject that notion and say the move was not political.
“These outcomes are based purely on economic considerations that take into account maintaining balance of supply and demand in the oil markets, as well as aim to limit volatility that does not serve the interests of consumers and producers, as has been always the case within OPEC+,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The statement said that in consultations on the issue, the Biden administration suggested postponing the reduction in oil production by one month, which could have delayed the rise in gas prices until after the US midterm elections. The Saudi statement said that the delay would have had “negative economic consequences.”
The White House responded to Riyadh’s statement, again accusing the Saudis of helping Russia and warning the US will reassess its relationship with the Kingdom. “We are re-evaluating our relationship with Saudi Arabia in light of these actions, and will continue to look for signs about where they stand in combating Russian aggression,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
Many Democrats in Congress are calling for a fundamental change to the relationship with the Saudis after the OPEC decisions, including a halt to US military support for Riyadh. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has called for a complete “freeze” of US-Saudi cooperation, including “any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend US personnel and interests.”
The spat with the Saudis comes after the ceasefire in Yemen expired. So far, there have been no reports of Saudi airstrikes in the country since the truce ended. Riyadh’s military operations in Yemen are almost entirely reliant on US support, and there are currently War Powers resolutions in both the House and the Senate.
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The UN estimates that the US-backed war on Yemen and the conditions it has caused have killed at least 377,000 people, more than half of which are children under the age of five. The US-backed coalition regularly bombed civilian targets in Yemen, and civilian casualties spiked earlier this year right before the ceasefire was reached in March.