The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries of which Saudi Arabia and the UAE are members, in alliance with Russia, wants to keep a cap on oil production, one factor that has caused oil prices to soar the past year. In an effort to keep a lid on rising oil prices, President Biden wants Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to fill the gap that will be created by the U.S. ban imposed on Russian oil imports because of President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.
But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan have recently turned down White House requests to speak with the president. They have complaints about how the U.S. treats them and are unhappy with its Gulf policy. They did, however, speak on the phone with Putin. The Wall Street Journal reports tonight:
The Saudis have signaled that their relationship with Washington has deteriorated under the Biden administration, and they want more support for their intervention in Yemen’s civil war, help with their own civilian nuclear program as Iran’s moves ahead, and legal immunity for Prince Mohammed in the U.S., Saudi officials said. The crown prince faces multiple lawsuits in the U.S., including over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The CIA concluded that bin Salman had ordered the savage murder of Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Saudi government who was killed by a hit squad and dismembered with a bone saw. Saudi Arabia later admitted that the killing was premeditated, but the crown prince denied he had anything whatsoever to do with this. Donald Trump, who was feted like a prince himself during a visit to Riyadh early in his occupation of the White House, bragged about protecting bin Salman from congressional scrutiny in the matter, according to Bob Woodward’s book Rage. Soon after the killing, Biden labeled the kingdom a “pariah” state.
Bad enough the Saudis and UAE want a veto over provisions of a resurrected Iran nuclear deal. Worse still is their desire for further U.S. complicity in the brutal war in Yemen, where there is a years-long humanitarian crisis in which atrocities are being committed by all sides, with the Saudi blockade and destruction of the capital’s only airport making it extremely difficult to deliver food, medicine, and other aid to beleaguered Yemenis.
Worst of all would be betraying the memory of Jamal Khashoggi. Immunity for the crown prince is a price far too high to keep oil prices lower.