The Saudis, and Our Weak Bargaining Position

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard can see sour relations all he wants to

The US-Saudi tango has been on thin ice ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Sixteen of the hijackers were Saudi nationals. The Bush family has cleaved closely to the Saudi monarchy, but strong factions in Washington see Riyadh’s Wahabi monarchy as part of the Mid-East problem– not the solution.

Saudi Arabia’s one saving grace — in the eyes of US critics — is that it has over the years been willing to cap extreme surges in the price of oil, deploying its power as the world’s swing producer. This time Riyadh is giving no ground.

…and the Democrats can fulminate and pass legislation all they want to…

New York Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for sanctions against Saudi Arabia, targeting $1.4bn in sales of bomb kits, light armoured vehicles, as well as gear for AWACS aircraft and F-15 fighters.

"You need our arms, but we need you to cooperate and not strangle American consumers.

"Saudi Arabia could do a lot more than they have done," he said.

The Democrats are also pushing legislation that would penalize the OPEC producers cartel for "anti-competitiveness practices".

The Bush White House has rolled its eyes in exasperation at such blunt methods, but hot feelings are aroused in American public discourse.

…but the U.S.’ leverage is limited, since a) it has never bothered to properly develop its own oil resources the last forty years and b) we now have to compete with the rest of the world’s rising demand.  Best to hope that the rising price will lead to a drop in demand.

 

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