'They are not our allies': Ro Khanna urges White House to end Saudi Arabia arms sales amid OPEC cuts

'They are not our allies': Ro Khanna urges White House to end Saudi Arabia arms sales amid OPEC cuts
Image via Creative Commons.

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna on Wednesday urged the Biden administration to cut off sales of weaponry and crucial plane parts to Saudi Arabia as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries—a cartel led by the Saudis—agreed to slash oil production in a bid to prop up falling prices, a move that could inflict more pain on American consumers.

"President Biden should make it clear that we will stop supplying the Saudis with weapons and air parts if they fleece the American people and strengthen [Russian President Vladimir] Putin by making drastic production cuts," Khanna (D-Calif.) toldThe Washington Post in an interview as OPEC members met in Vienna.

"They need us far more than we need them," Khanna added.

The Biden White House launched a pressure campaign earlier this week in a last-ditch bid to stop OPEC from cutting supply, characterizing such a move as a "hostile act."

But the administration's efforts failed. On Wednesday, OPEC members agreed to slash their combined production by two million barrels a day, the largest supply cut since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Saudi Arabia is the second-largest oil producer in the world behind the U.S., and the Biden administration has sought cooperation from the kingdom's murderous leaders as Russia's war on Ukraine continues to rattle global energy markets, elevating prices for consumers. While not a formal OPEC member, Russia—the world's third largest oil producer—often works with the international cartel.

In July, U.S. President Joe Biden held a widely condemned meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the global oil supply, among other issues.

The White House has warned an OPEC production cut could reverse the large and consistent declines in U.S. gas prices over the past several months, just in time for the pivotal midterm elections. Expectations of a production cut have already driven oil prices up significantly in recent days.

"We've been clear that energy supply should meet demand to support economic growth and lower prices for consumers around the world and we will continue to talk with our partners about that," White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement Tuesday.

Khanna, a progressive seen by some as a future presidential candidate, is a longtime critic of the Saudi regime—particularly its devastating assault on Yemen. He has been pushing the White House in recent days to respond forcefully to any OPEC production cut.

"It's outrageous. The Saudis need to be dealt with harshly," Khanna toldCNN in an interview earlier this week. "They are a third-rate power. We are the most powerful country in the world. I don't know why we kowtow to them."

"They are not our allies," the California Democrat added. "They are hurting the American people. And we need to be tough with them. The president needs to make it clear we will cut off their supply. We could ground their air force in a day."

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