Ellen R. Wald

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On Oct. 5, a group of oil producers led by Saudi Arabia decided to cut oil production quotas by two million barrels per day starting in November. Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

Washington is furious at Saudi Arabia: Members of Congress are demanding to freeze all cooperation, halt arms sales for a year and remove American troops and missile systems from the kingdom. President Biden warned of “consequences”.

American rage followed the Oct. 5 decision by OPEC Plus — 23 oil producers led by Saudi Arabia, which includes Russia — to cut oil production quotas by two million barrels per day starting in November.

If the United States follows through on its threats, the Biden administration would be a true maverick in Middle East policy, because no other administration — Republican or Democratic — has ever retaliated against Saudi Arabia in any serious manner for its oil policies.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the fallout continues over the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government in Riyadh is putting on a tough face. If there are sanctions over the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, the Saudis want the world to know, they will fight back.

On Sunday, the Saudi government released a recalcitrant statement: “The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy and that the Kingdom’s economy is affected only by the impact of the global economy.”

These are empty threats.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Saudi Aramco employee sits in the area of its exhibition at the Middle East Petrotech conference for the refining and petrochemical industries, in Manama, Bahrain, in 2016. Credit Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

For almost 40 years, Saudi Aramco has operated with a tremendous degree of independence for a national oil company. That has worked well for the company and for the country: Aramco has prospered financially and almost single-handedly funded the Saudi state and the royal family.

But that could all be changing. Mohammed bin Salman, the hugely popular crown prince, is reshaping his country, and he seems intent on putting his stamp on Aramco. There are signs that the government is exerting new control over Aramco’s most fundamental decisions.

This is a mistake. Too much interference could destabilize the company and, by extension, a large part of the Saudi economy.…  Seguir leyendo »