'MBS’ election interference': How Saudi Arabia is trying to help MAGA Republicans in the midterms
In the United States, gas prices were decreasing during the summer months — much to the relief of the Biden Administration. But with the 2022 midterms less than a month away, Biden officials and Democratic strategists are not happy to see gas prices increasing once again.
Journalist Ken Klippenstein, in an article published by The Intercept on October 11, emphasizes that higher gas prices are politically advantageous for the government of Saudi Arabia — which would prefer to have Republicans rather than Democrats in control of the United States’ federal government.
“When, just one month before midterm elections, Saudi Arabia announced it would be slashing oil production by 2 million barrels a day, White House officials called it a ‘hostile act’ and said the (Biden) Administration was ‘reevaluating’ the Saudi relationship,” Klippenstein explains. “It was the kind of bellicose language officialdom virtually never uses to describe the oil-rich monarchy, whose vast wealth has bought it enormous influence in Washington. Congressional Democrats facing reelection amid soaring gas prices were similarly incensed.”
Klippenstein continues, “Usually, Capitol Hill will trot out bloodless language of ‘deep concern’ in response to the kingdom’s myriad human rights abuses, but this time, congressional Democrats struck back, vowing to block weapons sales and even taking the unprecedented step of introducing legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The bill’s sponsors linked their efforts to the war in Ukraine, pointing out how keeping oil prices high results in a windfall of profit to bankroll Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion.”
According to the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel, Saudi members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) favor Republicans over Democrats.
Reidel told The Intercept, “The Saudis are working to get Trump reelected and for the MAGA Republicans to win the midterms. Higher oil prices will undermine the Democrats.”
When OPEC was founded back in 1960, it had five members: one in South America (Venezuela) and the other four in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait). All of those countries are still members, and other countries ranging from Libya to Angola have joined OPEC along the way. But the most prominent and influential OPEC member continues to be Saudi Arabia, whose Crowd Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had an “affinity for Trump,” Klippenstein notes.
Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California told The Intercept, “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.”
Klippenstein points out that the alliance between Trumpistas and MBS did not end when Trump left the White House and moved to Mar-a-Lago on January 20, 2021.
“Just six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and former top White House adviser, won a $2 billion investment from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund at the request of MBS, who overrode the objections of Saudi officials,” Klippenstein notes. “Kushner would later flaunt his influence with the Saudis in a pitch to investors for his investment firm Affinity Partners, according to a pitch deck obtained by The Intercept in April. And Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s firm, Liberty Strategic Capital, raised $1 billion from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. Experts suggest that MBS’ oil production cut is a targeted attempt to hurt the Democrats’ electoral prospects.”
Trita Parsi, who serves as executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told The Intercept, “This is MBS’ October surprise. 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?”
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