Biden advisers eye Saudi Arabia trip to increase oil production
After chastising Saudi Arabia, US President Biden looks to restrengthen ties with the kingdom amid the oil crisis, which emerged after imposing sanctions on Russia.
US President Biden's advisers are looking into the possibility of visiting Saudi Arabia this spring in order to strengthen relations and convince the Kingdom to pump more oil, according to Axios.
The hat-in-hand trip illustrates the weight of the global energy crisis driven by the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
Despite Biden repeatedly chastising Saudi Arabia during his presidential campaign, and the CIA believing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Biden's possible trip also reveals the impact of Russia's operation on the world's alliances, forcing the US to recalculate.
Moreover, Biden officials visited Venezuela this weekend to meet with President Nicolás Maduro's government members. That said, some Republicans and Democrats in Washington suggest Venezuela's oil could replace Russia's, according to the New York Times.
The president will likely take trips to Japan, Spain, Germany, and, potentially, occupied Palestine, according to Axios.
What this really means
“We don’t have any international travel to announce at this time, and a lot of this is premature speculation," a White House spokesperson told Axios.
The bigger picture suggests that President Obama visited Saudi Arabia more than any of his predecessors, but relations worsened over the wars on Yemen and Syria, as well as dealing with the Iranian nuclear file.
therefore, President Trump was devoted to strengthening the relationship and boasted about arms sales to the Kingdom.
"Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump wrote on Twitter, questioning the CIA's conclusion that Bin Salman was involved in Khashoggi's murder.
Biden called the Kingdom a "pariah" during his campaign and early in his term, released an unclassified report assessing MBS approved the operation to "capture or kill" Khashoggi.
However, Bin Salman isn't making it easier on Biden to repair their relations.
He chose to antagonize the White House during an interview with the Atlantic published last week: “We don’t have the right to lecture you in America,” he said. “The same goes the other way.”
Between the lines
The sanctions against Russia's oil exports — including a possible ban on importing Russian oil into the US — would increase worldwide gas prices and incite domestic inflation.
Biden's officials look to preserve options to give the president a chance to strengthen ties with the Saudis in an attempt to persuade them to increase their production of oil.