“The Saudis are working to get Trump re-elected and for the MAGA Republicans to win the midterms,” Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, was quoted as saying by The Intercept on Tuesday. “Higher oil prices will undermine the Democrats.”
The decision by OPEC+ recently has put US President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party in a bind by potentially kickstarting fuel price hikes, just a few weeks ahead of midterm elections, where the Republicans hope to take control of Congress.
The decision has left the Biden administration sulking and Congressional Democrats seeking reelection amid soaring gas prices are also incensed.
Representative Ro Khanna, California Democrat, said oil prices affect not only the price at the pump but also the cost of virtually everything and are a major driver of inflation.
“There’s no doubt that the Saudi-led OPEC oil production cuts are a strategic effort to hurt Americans at the pump and undermine our work to tackle rising costs,” he was quoted in the report as saying.
Experts now say the price hikes are a move by Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS, into the US electoral politics – a move against Biden and in favor of Trump, they say.
White House officials called the recent oil production cut a “hostile act” and said the administration was “re-evaluating” the Saudi relationship.
Capitol Hill normally resorts to expressing ‘deep concern’ in response to the Saudi kingdom’s myriad human rights abuses.
This time around, Congressional Democrats have struck back, vowing to block weapons sales and even taking the unprecedented step of introducing legislation to withdraw US troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Bin Salman’s affinity for Trump is hardly a secret. Trump broke with presidential tradition by paying his first foreign visit to Riyadh, where he inked a record $350 billion weapons sale to the autocracy.
He also repeatedly defended MBS amid reporting, including by his own CIA, that the crown prince had ordered the brutal murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I saved his a**,” Trump reportedly said. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone” — referring to three times he vetoed Congressional resolutions blocking billions in weapons sales to the Saudis.
The cozy relationship between Trump’s circles and the Saudis persisted after the president left office.
Just six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and former top White House adviser, won a $2-billion investment from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund with the blessings of MBS.
And Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s firm, Liberty Strategic Capital, raised $1 billion from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
Biden had promised when he ran for office that he would hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights abuses, including the murder of Khashoggi.
The US president was under fire this summer for meeting with bin Salman, giving him a fist-bump greeting. The meeting had come together as global oil supplies tightened and prices soared due to the war in Ukraine. The meeting flew in the face of Biden’s campaign promise to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah.”