The Saudi Foreign Ministry stated on Thursday that the Biden administration asked Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s lead oil producer, to delay cutting the world’s oil supply until after the United States’ midterm elections on Nov. 8.

The allegation suggested that the White House sought to delay the felt impact of OPEC+ by cutting oil production by 2 million gallons a day, starting in November, an announcement the cartel made earlier this week. U.S. President Joe Biden warned the Saudis in a CNN interview on Tuesday that there would be “consequences” for the decision.

Reducing oil output could be a strategy to position the producers better off financially, in face of a potential future global recession; and the Saudi Embassy to Washington, D.C., indicated in a statement that delaying the production-cut would have a cost.

“The Government of the Kingdom clarified through its continuous consultation with the U.S. Administration that all economic analyses indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month, according to what has been suggested, would have had negative economic consequences,” said the Saudi embassy’s statement – which contains the indication of a request for a delay. 

The White House fired back against the Saudi comment by alleging that the Saudis are trying to distort the facts behind communications with the U.S., while they align with Russia, an OPEC+ member that will benefit from the rising prices. 

“The Saudi Foreign Ministry can try to spin or deflect, but the facts are simple,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “In recent weeks, the Saudis conveyed to us – privately and publicly – their intention to reduce oil production, which they knew would increase Russian revenues and blunt the effectiveness of sanctions. That is the wrong direction.” 

“We presented Saudi Arabia with analysis to show that there was no market basis to cut production targets, and that they could easily wait for the next OPEC meeting to see how things developed,” Kirby added. 

The Saudis rejected the administration’s position, saying that it was an “unfortunate” attempt to portray “the OPEC+ decision out of its purely economic context.” They emphasized that the step was agreed upon by all OPEC+ member states. 

Rippling reactions to the assumed agenda of the government figures engaging in the talks with OPEC+ included a post by Donald Trump Jr., the son of the former president, who was put up for impeachment during his role as president: “QUID PRO JOE!!! I’m told much less than this is impeachable but I guess that only applies to people outside the D.C. Cabal.”

Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers and other conservative thought-leaders reacted to the Saudi statement with fury and suggested that the U.S. government had requested the postponement to try to sway the midterm elections to help the sitting Democrat administration. 

Morgan Ortagus, U.S. State Department spokesperson under former President Donald J. Trump, posed the question: “Why won’t the White House answer this straightforward question: Did they try to pressure a foreign country to prop up their midterm election prospects?”

Ben Shapiro, founder of the Daily Wire, also suggested Biden might have sought to influence the midterms by manipulating the OPEC+ oil-production decision, by refusing to back Saudi Arabia in their bid for arms.

“Joe Biden refuses to say whether he would support cutting off arms supplies to Saudi Arabia, after the Saudis rejected his request to increase oil supply in a slowing economy – a request made for a specified period of time, until right after the election,” Shapiro said. 

“This looks an awful lot like the president of the United States threatening to remove weaponry from a purported ally unless that ally performs actions that help that president politically in advance of an election,” he said. “Wasn’t Trump impeached for that?”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz indicated on social media that Biden and the Democrat administration “WANT your gasoline prices even HIGHER than they are now.” According to Cruz, Biden “just wants prices to dip right before Election Day because he thinks the voters won’t figure it out.”

Soaring energy prices are a huge deal to American voters as they head to the polls next month to decide which party will control the House of Representatives and the Senate. 

Republicans have long suspected Democrat green agenda policies of contributing to a domestic energy price increase. The administration backed such policies when it canceled the Keystone Pipeline System between the U.S. and Canada, resisted hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” blocked drilling on federal lands and limited new oil projects by raising the “social cost of carbon.”   

Now, according to Kirby’s CNN interview, Biden wishes to reassess the U.S.-Saudi relationship in light of recent tensions. 

“I think the president’s been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to re-evaluate, that we need to be willing to revisit,” said the National Security Council spokesman on Tuesday.

Originally, throughout his 2020 election campaign and ever since assuming office, Biden vowed to take a hardline approach towards the Saudis. Candidate-Biden even referred to Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” during the 2019 Democratic debate. 

For many months, the president has refused to deal directly with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after MBS reportedly approved the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Nevertheless, in July, the two leaders “fist-bumped” during Biden’s visit to the Kingdom. 

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