President Joe Biden has awkwardly asserted that his planned trip to Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to tighten ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) and ‘advance’ from the problem of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, has little to do with energy. He had this exchange with reporters outside of Air Force One on Sunday:
Journalist: “Have you decided, sir, if you should go to Saudi Arabia?”
Biden: “No, not yet.”
Journalist: “What would delay the decision at this stage? Do you expect commitments from the Saudis on the peace negotiations?”
Biden: “No, no, the Saudi commitments have nothing to do with energy.”
Axios wrote on the same day based on Israeli sources that the trip will take place in mid-July and must include a stopover in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. An official announcement is expected at the beginning of the week, on Monday.
“Three Israeli officials told Axios Biden that he is expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on July 14 and 15 before visiting Saudi Arabia. The White House has not confirmed those dates, and the Israeli officials have all warned that the timing had changed several times and could still change“, Axios wrote.
But isn’t it basically about the White House begging the Saudis to pump more oil? The claim might be in the realm of credibility had Biden not also recently sent officials to mend Maduro’s severed ties to Venezuela in a clearly desperate effort to rein in oil prices.
During the Sunday exchange with the journalists, Biden said further, “It happens to be a bigger meeting that’s going on in Saudi Arabia. That’s why I’m going. And it has to do with national security for them – for the Israelis. .” He continued: “I have a program, anyway. It has to do with much bigger problems than having to do with the price of energy.”
Ironically, the Democratic president suggests that this is really focused on pursuing Trump’s Abraham Accords. After the UAE and Israel established ties under the agreements, along with several other Arab states, there has been talk that Saudi Arabia could be next.
However, it’s clear that when the idea of a Biden-MbS meeting was first floated in March, oil production was top of the agenda — and remained so — as the Americans continue to feel pain at the pumps and as Europe finds out “what’s next”. ‘ with its partial Russian oil embargo amid the war in Ukraine. While Biden tries to portray the trip as being all about Israel and regional security, he’s not fooling anyone. But it seems to be the White House narrative intended to distract from Khashoggi’s murder and Biden’s re-embrace of an “outcast” (Biden’s own words), which according to a number of outside inquiries was ordained by the crown prince himself.
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