Top advisers for Joe Biden have recently been discussing the possibility of Biden taking a trip to Saudi Arabia to convince the country to start producing more oil, in order to reduce the rest of the world’s dependence on Russian oil.
According to Axios, the possible trip to Saudi Arabia would be part of a larger attempt to convince multiple other countries to produce more oil to offset Russia’s oil output, including the socialist country of Venezuela. Officials from the Biden Administration were already in Venezuela this weekend to meet with representatives from the government of dictator Nicolas Maduro.
In the cases of both Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, oil negotiations would represent a 180-degree shift by Biden, who has previously criticized both nations for human rights abuses in the past. Biden had previously blamed the Saudi government, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for the disappearance of a Washington Post journalist named Jamal Khashoggi, although his death was never confirmed.
Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia grew strained during the presidency of Barack Obama, particularly with regards to the wars in Yemen and Syria. President Donald Trump successfully restored relations with the Middle Eastern kingdom, convincing the Saudis to lead a region-wide effort to crack down on terrorism without assistance from the United States. On the campaign trail, then-candidate Biden continued to attack Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” for the alleged death of Khashoggi.
As recently as last week, Salman gave an interview to The Atlantic in which he criticized Biden’s hypocrisy on the international stage, saying that “we don’t have the right to lecture you in America. The same goes the other way.”
The desperate attempts by the Biden Administration to mend relationships with Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are indicative of the global panic caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, particularly with regards to the spiking price of gasoline. In some areas of the United States, the price of gas has reached over $5 a gallon, with some areas in California reaching as high as $7 per gallon. Although many have called for Biden to simply restore domestic energy production in the United States to counter the dependence on Russian oil, Biden has repeatedly refused to do so; many of his earliest actions in office were to shut down numerous proposed oil pipelines in the U.S., and to cancel all outstanding oil and gas leases on federal property.
When asked about the possible Saudi trip, a White House spokesperson said that “We don’t have any international travel to announce at this time, and a lot of this is premature speculation.” Nevertheless, Axios further reported that the White House allegedly has numerous international trips planned for 2022, including a Japan trip in May, trips to Germany and Spain in June, and a possible stop in Israel during his European trip.