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Report: Saudi Prince MBS ‘Duped’ Joe Biden with Promise of Oil Production Spike

The left-wing newspaper New York Times claimed in a report on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources in American and Gulf Arab governments, that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had promised leftist American President Joe Biden an increase in oil production but “duped” the White House.

OPEC+, the oil cartel largely led by Saudi Arabia, announced in early October that it would cut its production by a dramatic 2 million barrels a day, raising global oil prices in the final weeks preceding the American midterm elections – which Democrats are projected to lose severely in.

A surprised White House responded by accusing Saudi Arabia of conspiring with the government of Russia to keep oil prices high, softening the blow of Western sanctions on the Russian economy and helpful fund Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The insults offended Riyadh, which rejected claims the production cut was tied to any political considerations. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky weighed in with a vote of confidence for Mohammed bin Salman, known commonly by his initials MBS, shortly after the White House’s accusations.

The New York Times claimed that Biden administration officials working on diplomacy with Saudi Arabia told lawmakers that they had secured an agreement to increase Saudi Arabia’s oil production, not simply stop reductions, and that the White House believed Saudi Arabia would kept blunt oil prices through an awkward visit to the country by Biden this summer, now most famously remembered for the “fist bump” greeting between the elderly Biden and the 37-year-old crown prince.

The New York Times report follows a series of reports in the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous rumors out of Riyadh, that MBS has a particular personal distaste of Biden and mocks his “mental acuity” behind his back. The Journal also revealed in anonymous reports later confirmed by the Biden administration that Biden had attempted to convince the Saudis to hold back OPEC+’s production cuts until after the midterm elections, a move that may have benefitted the Democrats at the ballot box.

“As President Biden was planning a politically risky trip to Saudi Arabia this summer, his top aides thought they had struck a secret deal to boost oil production through the end of the year,” the Times reported, “an arrangement that could have helped justify breaking a campaign pledge to shun the kingdom and its crown prince.”

Anonymous “American officials” told the New York Times that the Saudi government had agreed to first “accelerate an OPEC Plus production increase of 400,000 barrels per day already planned for September” and then increase production by another “200,000 barrels per day for each month from September to December of this year.” The production increases did not materialize, but as recently as late September, MBS was reportedly personally assuring American officials that production cuts would not occur.

Instead, OPEC+ cut production by 2 million barrels a day.

The Times described members of Congress privy to the deal as outraged that MBS had “duped” Biden. One Congressman, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), lamented to the newspaper, “there’s now a level of embarrassment as the Saudis merrily go on their way.”

The embarrassment is compounded by the poor reception in the United States to Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia this summer. As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to turn Saudi Arabia, a decades-long ally of Washington’s, into a global “pariah” over the butchering of Islamist Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. Biden reportedly did scold MBS, who an American intelligence report accused of personally ordering the slaughter, while in his country, but the visit to Saudi Arabia nonetheless gave the impression that Biden was abandoning his campaign promise and welcoming the Saudis back into the company of respectable state actors. Human rights activists, many of them Democrats, balked at the trip.

While the America economy has languished thanks to rampant inflation – exacerbated by Democrat-led efforts such as the “Inflation Reduction Act” – Saudi Arabia has experienced dramatic growth as the price of oil has skyrocketed this year, fueling low unemployment and attracting foreign investment.

“The kingdom rejects these allegations and stresses that such mischaracterizations made by anonymous sources are entirely false,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry told the New York Times.

The Times revelations, if true, continue a devastating week for American-Saudi officials that opened with a Wall Street Journal report claiming MBS openly laughs at Biden’s incompetence with his officials.

“Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s 37-year-old day-to-day ruler, mocks President Biden in private, making fun of the 79-year-old’s gaffes and questioning his mental acuity,” the newspaper claimed.

Animosity between the two leaders reportedly began not with oil disputes but with Biden choosing to make one of his first moves as president delisting the Yemeni Houthi movement as a terrorist organization. The Houthis took over the national capital, Sana’a, in 2015, starting an ongoing civil war in which Saudi Arabia is aiding the legitimate government (the Houthis receive support for Iran). The delisting outraged Riyadh because the Houthis actively engage in terrorist acts on a regular basis, including targeting Saudi oil processing facilities with bombings.

A spokesman for the Houthis threatened to bomb international oil tankers this weekend if the terrorists do not gain access to Yemen’s public oil profits.

 

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