A leaked intelligence document reveals that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman privately threatened to impose “major economic consequences for Washington” if President Joe Biden delivered his promised “consequences” against the Saudi Arabian regime for leading the October 2022 OPEC+ oil production cuts, according to The Washington Post.
A classified U.S. intelligence document leaked as a part of the larger “Discord leaks” summarizes the Saudi Arabian leader’s private threats and dismay with the Biden administration after a 2022 quarrel regarding oil production, according to the report. The document claims that the crown prince asserted at the time that “he will not deal with the U.S. administration anymore,” according to the report.
The public disclosure of the crown prince’s dismay with the Biden administration last year comes at a critical juncture for the two allies. The Biden administration seeks to shift its most intense foreign affairs focus to an ascendant China and away from the Middle East after two decades of American military involvement in the region.
The private threats from bin Salman stand at odds with the Saudi Arabian regime’s publicly diplomatic tone on the dispute about oil production cuts, according to the report. Biden had publicly warned the Saudi Arabian regime in October 2022 that “consequences” would accompany OPEC+ production cuts of 2 million barrels per day just weeks in advance of the crucial 2022 U.S. midterm elections.
The national average per-gallon gasoline price at the pump hovered at $3.90 at the time of the dispute between the two allied leaders, according to AAA. Biden had faced considerable criticism for his administration’s energy policies and high gas prices for consumers across the country in the months leading up to the crucial midterm elections. Biden previously had visited bin Salman in Saudi Arabia in July 2022.
As a candidate for the presidency in 2019, Biden pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state in the international community for its role in the 2018 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi. Biden also posited as a candidate that he would reassess U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention against the Iran-supported Houthis in Yemen, according to NBC.
Biden has yet to follow through with his vague promise of “consequences” for the Saudi Arabian regime some eight months after issuing it and seven months after the 2022 midterm elections. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded a visit to Riyadh this week as he attempted to shore up ties with the key American ally in the Middle East, according to The New York Times.
It is not known whether U.S officials learned of the crown prince’s warnings directly or via communications espionage, according to the Post’s report. A spokesperson for the National Security Council told the Post that “we are not aware of such threats by Saudi Arabia,” according to the report.
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