Oil prices rise due to decisions by rulers in the Gulf. US President Joe Biden has had enough.
The Arab Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are moving closer to Russia. Although these governments are traditionally considered pro-Western, they refuse to condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine at the UN.
Last week they announced they were closing ranks with Russia on oil production: instead of producing more oil, as US President Joe Biden had hoped, to reduce supply. Oil and gas prices are rising. The Kremlin benefits greatly from this.
When Saudi Arabia’s strongest man, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, visits the West, he likes to talk about joint projects and historic opportunities. Indeed, the Gulf monarchies are moving away from the West. Of course, the crown prince has been a massive victim of human rights abuses for many democratic governments.
“The rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the United States is over,” says Professor Giacomo Luciani, an expert on the Gulf states at the Geneva Graduate Institute: “US President Joe Biden’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia, which he was reluctant to undertake, has ended. It has brought nothing.”
Additionally, Biden sees a decisive clash between democracy and autocracy in the war in Ukraine. In that case, the feudal rulers of the Gulf also join the ranks of dictators.
Putin is the only notable ruler who still welcomes Mohammed bin Salman on friendly terms.
On the world stage, many autocrats are now brazenly claiming to be autocrats. Solidarity is growing among authoritarian rulers who are staunchly opposed to democracy. According to Giacomo Luciani, “this encourages”, “the apparent rapprochement of the Gulf states with Russia. Vladimir Putin is still the only significant ruler with a friendly grasp of Saudi power.
Nor did the Gulf state rulers understand the West’s sudden turn: the massacres in Chechnya, the annexation of Crimea, the sidelining of dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria, all allowed to escape the Kremlin. Why is everything different in the case of Ukraine?
“Gulf countries depend on the West”
Gulf monarchs such as Mohammed bin Salman are now bursting with confidence. They are increasingly convinced that they no longer need the West. Not even in a standing dispute with arch-enemy Iran. “But you could be wrong about that,” says Luciani. “They depend on Western weapons and advice for their security.”
Russia cannot and China does not want to interfere. It may not take responsibility in the Middle East. The U.S. may now halt planned arms deliveries. They could formally declare the OPEC oil system a cartel and introduce illegal punitive measures against its members.
Biden announces consequences
Indeed, US President Joe Biden is deeply angered by the Gulf states’ flirtation with Moscow. He announced on the CNN news channel that it will have consequences. Exactly, he didn’t say.
On the other hand, US MPs have already proposed to each other. America still has pillars in its middle to show the boundaries of the Gulf monarchies.
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