Menendez: Freeze US-Saudi cooperation

FILE – A photographer takes pictures of the Khurais oil field during a tour for journalists, 150 km east-northeast of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 28, 2021. A cut in oil production is on the table when OPEC oil-producing countries meet Wednesday. The OPEC+ alliance that includes Saudi Arabia and Russia is weighing a cut of a million barrels per day or more. The idea is to boost oil prices that have fallen from summer highs of over $100 to around $80 for U.S. crude. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Monday urged the U.S. government to freeze its cooperation with Saudi Arabia due to that nation’s decision to cut oil production, which is likely to benefit the Russian economy as it wages its war against Ukraine.

“The United States must immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend U.S. personnel and interests,” Menendez wrote.

He said that the “terrible” decision made by OPEC+, an organization made up of countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq and Iran that export oil, would “help underwrite [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.”

“There simply is no room to play both sides of this conflict – either you support the rest of the free world in trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping off an entire country off of the map, or you support him,” he wrote.

The senator pledged that he will not approve any cooperation with Saudi Arabia on the Foreign Relations Committee unless and until the nation’s leadership changes its decision.

Saudi Arabia’s energy scale-back has been criticized by numerous Democrats since it was announced on Wednesday.

The 2 million-barrel-per-day cut will likely contribute to a spike in gas prices in the U.S., which may affect Democrats’ chances in the midterm elections next month.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) advocated on Friday for pulling U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia in response to the move.

“If Saudi Arabia, one of the worst violators of human rights in the world, wants to partner with Russia to jack up US gas prices, it can get Putin to defend its monarchy,” he wrote.

“We must pull all US troops out of Saudi Arabia, stop selling them weapons & end its price-fixing oil cartel.”

The Biden administration agreed that Saudi Arabia’s choice showed solidarity with Putin.

“It’s clear that OPEC+ is aligning with Russia with today’s announcement,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre shortly after the announcement of the cut.

Tags Bernie Sanders Bob Menendez OPEC+ Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia–United States relations Vladimir Putin

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