Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have refused to receive phone calls from U.S. President Joe Biden, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
“Biden tried to contact bin Salman and bin Zayed to request an increase in their countries’ oil production,” the paper said, noting that bin Zayed and bin Salman spoke last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky. The article added that the UAE and Saudi Arabia refuse to increase oil production, instead adhering to a plan approved by OPEC and several Russian-led producers.
The Wall Street Journal said that bin Salman and bin Zayed’s refusal to receive Biden’s call reflects dissatisfaction both with Washington’s level of support for the Yemen war and the Vienna negotiations.
Saudi relations with Washington have deteriorated under the Biden administration. Riyadh wants more support for Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen, as well as assistance for the Saudi nuclear program as Iran’s advances, the newspaper said.
According to Saudi officials, Mohammed bin Salman also wants legal immunity in the United States, where the crown prince faces several lawsuits, including for the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the only major oil producers that can pump millions of additional barrels of oil. If used, this capability could help cool the crude oil market, at a time when U.S. gasoline prices have reached high levels,” the Wall Street Journal reasoned.
Bin Salman and bin Zayed’s refusal to take Biden’s phone call coincides with the U.S. website Axios revealing that Biden’s advisers are considering a visit to Saudi Arabia this spring. The visit would aim to repair relations and persuade Saudi Arabia to pump more oil. Axios noted that the planned trip illustrates the seriousness of the global energy crisis caused by Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
“The United States knows what needs to be done to develop political and economic interests with us,” Salman said in an interview with The Atlantic.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia’s refusal to communicate with Biden caught the attention of both Arab and foreign analysts. Former U.S. diplomat Alberto Kegel Fernandez linked the Gulf position to Biden’s policy on the Houthis in Yemen and Iran. He argued that the Biden administration was not serious about pressuring the Houthis and Iran.
“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the only major oil producers that can pump millions of additional barrels. Their refusal to increase production is economically motivated. They are committed to a production plan approved between their group, OPEC, and a group of other, Russian-led producers. Accepting increased production has negative implications for the economy and politics; it would be perceived as biased towards the U.S. by supporting the American decision to isolate and punish Russia. Ultimately, American citizens would benefit at the expense of the Gulf states’ relations with Russia, the main partner in OPEC, which has good relations with all Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.