By Andrew Millman and Devan Cole, CNN
A Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday that “there’s got to be consequences” after Saudi Arabia and a cartel of major oil producers moved to slash oil production last week in a move the White House said was “shortsighted” and hurtful to low and middle-income countries.
“There’s got to be consequences for that. Whether it’s lifting the cartel’s immunity or whether it’s rethinking our troop presence there, our security relationship, I just think it’s time to admit that the Saudis are not looking out for us,” Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” referring to the US’ military presence in the Middle East.
“For years we have looked the other way as Saudi Arabia has chopped up journalists, has engaged in massive political repression, for one reason: we wanted to know that when the chips were down, when there was a global crisis, that the Saudis would choose us instead of Russia,” the senator said. “Well, they didn’t. They chose Russia.”
Last week, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, said that it will slash oil production by 2 million barrels per day, the biggest cut since the start of the pandemic, in a move that threatens to push gasoline prices higher just weeks before US midterm elections. The group announced the production cut following its first meeting in person since March 2020. The reduction is equivalent to about 2% of global oil demand.
The Biden administration criticized the decision in a statement, calling it “shortsighted” and saying that it’s harmful to some countries already struggling with elevated energy prices the most.
The production cuts will start in November. OPEC+, which combines OPEC countries and allies such as Russia, will meet again in December.
Murphy on Sunday also defended Biden’s meeting earlier this year with Saudi Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman and their controversial fist bump, saying “I don’t have any problem with American presidents meeting with our friends or adversaries.”
The senator said that the US-Saudi relationship has been “broken under Democratic presidents and Republican presidents” and conceded that “it’s clear we didn’t get as much as we needed to out of that meeting.”
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CNN’s Hanna Ziady contributed to this report.