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16 Oct, 2022 17:12

Americans should know if US pressured Middle East ally – congressman

A Republican lawmaker wants House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to probe Washington’s alleged attempted coercion of Saudi Arabia
Americans should know if US pressured Middle East ally – congressman

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should look into whether the White House pressured Saudi Arabia to delay OPEC+’s promised oil production cut in an attempt to influence the outcome of US mid-term elections, Republican Tom Tiffany demanded in a letter to the congresswoman on Thursday.

Riyadh had claimed that the US government had sought a one-month delay in the 2 million barrels-per-day production cut announced earlier this month. Delaying the cut would postpone the expected surge in energy prices until after the US midterm elections. However, “postponing the OPEC+ decision by a month…would have had negative economic consequences,” a statement from the Kingdom read. 

The administration of US President Joe Biden responded by accusing its sometime Arab ally of attempting to “spin and deflect.” The Saudis “knew [the production cut] would increase Russian revenues and blunt the effectiveness of sanctions,” White House spokesman John Kirby reminded Americans.

Kirby suggested that “other OPEC nations” had “privately” approached the US to support its bid to postpone the reduction, implying that the request to delay the cuts could not have been solely motivated by the desire to keep control of Congress in November.

If the Biden administration did attempt to pressure a foreign government to influence the outcome of the US election, that’s something Americans deserve to know,” Tiffany tweeted on Thursday alongside his letter to Pelosi. 

If the Saudis’ claims are to be believed, he wrote, the administration’s efforts to postpone the cut amounted to an “illegal solicitation of a foreign in-kind contribution by the White House on behalf of Democrats’ midterm campaign efforts.”

Tiffany urged Pelosi to obtain the transcripts of the calls made to lobby Riyadh and insisted that US administration officials who may have asked Saudi officials to delay the cut be identified.

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, confirmed on Sunday that the president would act “methodically” to re-evaluate the US relationship with Saudi Arabia. The administration has been threatening to “reassess” the partnership since the price cut was announced. However, while the president warned there would be “some consequences” for the Saudis, their nature has yet to be publicly revealed. 

Inflation and the high cost of living are the chief issues on voters’ minds heading into the midterms next month, casting the Democrats’ ability to hold on to both the House and Senate into doubt as polls indicate few voters trust Biden to effectively manage the economy.