According to reports, Joe Biden’s administration believed it had a secret agreement in place for Riyadh to increase oil supply when he made his contentious trip to Saudi Arabia in July, breaching a campaign vow to avoid the country. Riyadh, on the other hand, led OPEC in slashing output objectives.
According to conversations with unnamed US and Middle Eastern government officials, the New York Times reported on Wednesday that the production rise was anticipated to occur between September and the end of this year, helping to reduce inflation and supporting Biden’s visit to Riyadh.
OPEC announced intentions to reduce output by two million barrels per day earlier this month, pushing prices higher and perhaps raising the possibility that the Biden-led Democratic Party may lose control of Congress in the upcoming US midterm elections.
In response, many US politicians proposed that Washington retaliate against Saudi Arabia by stopping arms shipments to the country or by ceasing to support the country militarily. There would be repercussions, Biden threatened, accusing Riyadh of supporting Russia in the Ukraine crisis.
The Times said that members of Congress who had access to sensitive briefings about the covert oil transaction “have been left seething that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman conned the government.” Even days prior to the OPEC statement, US officials told the newspaper that bin Salman had guaranteed them there would be no output reductions.
Later, after learning that Saudi Arabia had changed its mind, administration officials launched an unsuccessful attempt to “alter minds in the royal court.”
Earlier this month, Saudi officials said that Washington had attempted to delay the decision for many weeks and that the OPEC decision was completely based on economic factors, not political ones. The announcement may have been made after November 8, the midterm election day, as a result of this delay. According to surveys, US inflation is still close to a 40-year high and is voters’ top concern.
While running for president in 2019, Biden declared that if elected, he would treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” and force them to “pay the price” for the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Even some of his staunchest supporters, according to The Times, have argued that Biden’s decision to meet with bin Salman despite his administration believing it had a covert oil deal in May was the latest instance of “sacrificing principles for political expediency – and having little to show for it.”
Representative Gerald Connolly of Virginia, a Democrat from the United States, claimed that “there is now a sense of shame as the Saudis happily continue on their way.”
In June, Biden vehemently denied that he would approach Saudi authorities to increase oil supply. The Times stated that what transpired over the previous six months was “a tale of handshake deals, wishful thinking, misread cues, and finger-pointing over unfulfilled promises.”