Was the OPEC+ Supply Cut About the U.S. Midterm Elections?

October 12, 2022 Topic: OPEC+ Region: United States Blog Brand: Politics Tags: Saudi ArabiaJoe BidenOPEC+OPECGas Prices

Was the OPEC+ Supply Cut About the U.S. Midterm Elections?

Another expert quoted expressed MBS’ desire to “make a Carter out of Biden,” in the way that Jimmy Carter was defeated for re-election in 1980 amid the Iran hostage crisis.

 

Last week, OPEC+ announced a 2-billion-barrel-a-day production cut, a move that instantly sent the global price of oil soaring and, with it, gas prices

Much domestic political analysis speculated on what the price hike might mean for the midterm elections and whether a new wave of price increases might hurt the incumbent Democrats in the election. 

 

A new report by the Intercept says that the OPEC+ move was a deliberate move by Saudi Arabia to hurt the president’s party in the elections.  

“The Saudis are working to get Trump re-elected and for the MAGA Republicans to win the midterms,” Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, said in the Intercept article. “Higher oil prices will undermine the Democrats.”

Even one elected member of Congress agreed with that assertion. 

“There’s no doubt that the Saudi-led OPEC oil production cuts are a strategic effort to hurt Americans at the pump and undermine our work to tackle rising costs,” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told the site. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) was uncommonly close to former President Trump, with Trump visiting Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president in 2017. Trump even defended MBS after the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamaal Khashoggi, which the U.S. intelligence community concluded had been ordered by Saudi leadership. After Trump left office, his son-in-law and former adviser, Jared Kushner, received a $2 billion investment from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. 

Since President Biden succeeded Trump, the White House appears to have been torn by a desire to hold the Saudis accountable while avoiding disruptions to the global oil supply. 

“This is MBS’s October surprise,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told The Intercept. “This is his election interference. It forces Biden to make a choice: Will he protect America’s democracy and Democratic lawmakers in Congress, or will he triple down on a flawed gamble that says that the U.S. has no choice but to acquiesce to Saudi Arabia to prevent Riyadh from aligning with Russia?”

Another expert quoted expressed MBS’ desire to “make a Carter out of Biden,” in the way that Jimmy Carter was defeated for re-election in 1980 amid the Iran hostage crisis. 

The president has vowed “consequences” for the Saudis after the cut, per NBC News. 

"There’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done with Russia," Biden said this week in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. “I’m not going to get into what I’d consider and what I have in mind. But there will be — there will be consequences.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.