ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore explains why the US is now re-evaluating its relationship with Saudi Arabia
The US-Saudi relationship has always been fraught.Add a global energy crisis and a ruthless Saudi leader who is widely seen as the killer of a Washington-based reporter and you can sense just how complicated the Washington-Riyadh axis is.Now the Saudis have made a decision that has infuriated the White House. In fact, they have gone further - they have humiliated a sitting US president on the eve of American congressional elections.That's the ultimate sin in this town.If you recall, Joe Biden went to Saudi Arabia in July - against his own instincts - to ask Mohammed bin Salman to ramp up oil production.
Russia was holding the West to ransom and making huge profits as their aggression in Ukraine led to high energy prices. Rising petrol prices in the US had become a major political issue for Biden.So the president swallowed his pride, flew to Jeddah as a supplicant to the court of bin Salman, and fist-bumped the man who the US claims had ordered the brutal murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
Now the Saudis have done exactly the opposite of what Biden was asking. After briefly increasing oil production over the summer, bin Salman - along with the rest of OPEC and in coordination with Moscow - has now significant reduced Saudi output. Global oil production is down by 2%.
The Biden administration is furious and threatening to re-evaluate the whole US-Saudi relationship. The trip to Jeddah looks like it was a waste of time, and made Biden look weak and naïve on the global stage.
The Saudi move is a significant boost for Russia as well. By restricting supply, oil prices are rising once more, helping Moscow's bank accounts and financing the war in Ukraine.Notably, too, Saudi Arabia hasn't criticised Russia's aggression.To make the whole situation more painful for the White House, everything in Washington is seen through a political prism. We are less than four weeks away from congressional midterms elections. Control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives is in the balance.One issue that every American family cares about is the price of petrol. If the Saudi decision on oil production makes the average road trip here more expensive, it could cost Democrats critical votes.The Saudis are power players. Their sole weapon is oil. And if they can swing an American election and punish Biden - the man who after all is seeking to do a nuclear deal with their arch-enemy Iran - that would a bonus.
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