The best way to respond to Saudi Arabia’s support for Putin


This week, Saudi Arabia colluded with Russia to decide to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day at an OPEC+ meeting, raising gas prices in Russia’s favour. This shocking move will exacerbate global inflation, undermine the US’ successful efforts to lower gas prices, and help fuel Putin’s ill-founded invasion of Ukraine.

The Saudi decision was a blow to the United States, but the United States has ways to respond. It could immediately pause the US war technology from falling into eager Saudi hands. Simply put, America should not offer such unrestricted control of its strategic defense system to the obvious ally of our greatest enemy, the nuclear bomb blackmailer Vladimir Putin.

That is why I will introduce a bicameral bill in the Senate and House on Tuesday to immediately halt all US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Over the last few years, our colleagues have considered similar proposals, but those measures have not passed. I think this time will be different because of the intense bipartisan backlash against the Saudi-Russian collusion. Our bill already has bipartisan support in both houses, according to conversations with colleagues.

What makes the Saudis unwise enough to make the latest OPEC+ mistakes? Stunned energy pundits say the Saudis are only concerned about the crisis of their economic interests and are acting rationally. Saudi analyst Ali Shihabi denied any political motives, saying claimed in new york times The move was simply “to keep prices within an acceptable range.”

However, this claim is unjustified. OPEC is We have never cut production in such a record tight market And these production cuts Unsustainable decline in oil stocks, oil prices are soaring out of the “tolerance”. Moreover, the G-7’s oil price cap plan does not target his OPEC. Strictly limited to Russian oil.

Nor can the Saudi move be justified by the nonexistent global recession cited by its leaders. the market is very tightlush 73% profit margin for Saudi Arabia. In other words, there was no immediate need for Saudi Arabia to cut supplies unless it sought to harm the United States for Russian interests.

All of OPEC’s members have made huge profits recently, except Russia, which is OPEC’s least efficient takes Russia costs $46 a barrel to extract oil, but US technology only costs Saudi Arabia $22 a barrelIn addition, only Russia had to provide huge $35/barrel discount for customers Because few people want licensed Russian oil like India or China.

To be clear, Saudi Arabia, which remains critical to Middle East energy security and stability, global economic prosperity, and as a regional ally to Iran, has made a terrible mistake this week. The aid would spark a far-reaching reexamination of US-Saudi relations. International Image of “Sports Wash” In the wake of washington post The brutal murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the humanitarian disaster caused by Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

Members of Congress are already discussing how best to respond. Some have suggested extending domestic antitrust laws to international commerce. Some have suggested reviving the Republican initiative to withdraw US troops from Saudi Arabia. But that idea had previously failed, given that the U.S. was more willing to station its own forces than those of Russia or China.

A simpler and far more urgent move to bolster US national security would be to suspend all US military supplies, sales and other arms aid to Saudi Arabia. This includes the controversial, new, Hastily planned Red Sands test facility in Saudi Arabia.

US military cooperation with the Saudi regime is more extensive than many realize, but it also gives the US significant economic and security leverage over Riyadh. .Today Saudi Arabia is very Rely on and buy U.S. defense aid Majority of that arm usaA country cannot substitute a defense supplier unless it wants to partner with Russia, Iran or China. Far inferior systems with no interoperability with existing weapons. (Saudi Arabia procures some military technology from other countries, usually small arms such as low-grade weapons and legacy. Grenade Launcher, Rifle, Ammo.)

Perhaps even more important than Saudi reliance on U.S. weapons is its reliance on U.S. companies to help build its local defense industry. expensive joint ventureThese discreet and focused arrangements, which have largely been kept out of the public eye, were largely launched in 2017, are not under US control, and have transferred US classified technology and US jobs to Saudi Arabia. Outsourced. The United States does not have arrangements of this magnitude with any other ally.

Given the early-stage nature of these joint ventures, Minimal interoperability between Saudi current weapons systems and potential foreign alternative weaponsSaudi Arabia can do little but go back to the table and negotiate in good faith with the United States to accommodate this proposed law. As one expert pointed out“For example, it will take decades to go from US or British aircraft to Russian or Chinese aircraft. The same is true for tanks, communications and other high-tech equipment.” If so, it would be a serious challenge, if not downright impossible, for the Saudis to execute a short-term procurement pivot overnight. may also be temporary.

Maybe it’s worth considering for ourselves the ancient Russian wisdom. Over 100 years ago, Russian playwright Anton Chekhov warned that “knowledge is worth nothing unless it is put into practice.” Perhaps the same can be said for leverage. It’s worth nothing if you don’t use it.