- The White House has given up asking Saudi Arabia to pump more oil, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- The US has tried to get more Saudi oil since it banned Russian energy over the Ukraine war.
- US-Saudi relations are at a new low.
The White House has given up asking Saudi Arabia to pump more oil after being repeatedly rebuffed by the kingdom, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, the latest sign of a growing rift between the two nations.
The US banned imports of Russian oil and gas after Russia invaded Ukraine, helping to send prices at the pump soaring. In turn, the US turned to Saudi Arabia to boost production with the goal of driving down prices.
But the Saudis declined, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the kingdom’s de facto ruler — reportedly ignoring President Joe Biden’s phone calls. Saudi Arabia and Russia are key members of the OPEC+ alliance of oil producers, which decided on only a tiny increase in production in late March, despite global price rises.
A senior US official told The Journal that, having abandoned efforts to get Saudi Arabia to up oil production, the US instead started asking the Saudis not do anything that would hurt the West’s efforts in Ukraine.
The Journal report didn’t give further details, but Saudi Arabia is among the nations that have not condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with Crown Prince Mohammed recently offering to mediate peace talks.
The White House and the State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Saudi Arabia’s decision to avoid angering Russia and let down the US is significant, and exemplifies the growing rift between Biden and Crown Prince Mohammed.
A long-standing alliance is being tested
The US-Saudi relationship has long been underpinned by the exchange of US arms and security guarantees for access to Saudi oil. But that relationship is being tested.
Saudi Arabia is upset with Biden’s sidelining of Crown Prince Mohammed, Biden’s hardline rhetoric on the country’s human-rights record, and the US failure to guarantee its security following a string of attacks on the Arabian Peninsula led by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
In a clear show of US intentions to improve relations, the US hurriedly sent additional Patriot antimissile interceptors to Saudi Arabia last month, just as the effects of the Russia oil crisis began to bite, The Journal previously reported.
More than a year into his presidency, Biden has yet to meet Saudi King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed in an official capacity.
After the CIA concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed most likely ordered the murder of the writer Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, the White House effectively demoted Crown Prince Mohammed to defense minister, one of the titles he holds, and marked his father King Salman as Biden’s equal.
In turn, Crown Prince Mohammed made clear his disdain for the Biden administration in an interview with The Atlantic published last month, saying he didn’t care what the US president thought of him.
Citing people familiar with the matter, The Journal also reported Tuesday that shortly after Biden became president, Crown Prince Mohammed yelled at the White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan after Sullivan brought up Khashoggi during an informal meeting.