Angered by Saudi Arabia’s decision to join Russia in cutting petroleum output during the Ukraine war — thus driving up gas prices before the midterm elections— President Joe Biden is signaling to Congress that he is open to retaliatory measures against the kingdom, The New York Times reports
Those measures could include halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia and a new antitrust measure.
The potential implementation of retaliatory measures is a shift for Biden. Previously, his goal was to improve relations with Saudi Arabia. But, according to reports, Biden is seething after the Saudi-led OPEC Plus group said last week that it would cut oil production by up to two million barrels a day.
“I think the president’s been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to re-evaluate, that we need to be willing to revisit,” John F. Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council at the White House, said on CNN. “And, certainly, in light of the OPEC decision, I think that’s where he is.”
Biden received widespread criticism in July for visiting Saudi Arabia and giving a fist bump to its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The president’s visit came despite a campaign promise to make the kingdom an international “pariah” for the 2018 killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.
Sen. Menendez Calls for Freeze in Cooperation With Saudis
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez called Monday for freezing all U.S. cooperation with Saudi Arabia, delivering one of the strongest expressions yet of U.S. anger over Saudi oil-production cuts that serve to boost Russia in its war in Ukraine.
In a statement, Menendez specifically called for cutting off all arms sales and security cooperation — one of the underpinnings of the more than 70-year U.S. strategic partnership with the oil kingdom — beyond the minimum necessary to defend Americans and American interests.
As committee chairman, Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, vowed he “will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine. Enough is enough.”
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