Saudi Arabia and the Energy Crisis

Peace Advocate November 2022

by Paul Shannon

In October a wave of rage went through the White House and members of Congress when Saudi Arabia joined other major oil producers to cut production, thereby driving the already high cost of oil even higher. Based on his earlier friendly visit to Saudi Arabia, President Biden and the Democrats were hoping that the Saudis might increase oil production, thereby lowering oil prices and helping to reduce inflation in the U.S. The sense of betrayal resulted in the President and members of Congress lashing out at the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), some calling for cutting off weapons sales or even more serious measures. In a statement on October 11th Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Representative Ro Khanna of California said:

“Members of Congress are already talking about how best to respond. Some propose extending domestic antitrust laws to international commerce. Others propose reviving a GOP initiative to withdraw U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia.” Filed back in 2020 by Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, that measure intended to punish the Kingdom around energy, that time for producing too much oil. “But that idea has failed previously,” the lawmakers continued, “given that the U.S. would rather have its own troops there than Russian or Chinese troops. A simpler, far more urgent move to fortify U.S. national security would be to pause all U.S. military supplies, sales and other weapons aid to Saudi Arabia.”

While the pause on all military support and supplies to Saudi Arabia proposed by Khanna and Blumenthal would of course be welcome, their legislation is neither a realistic or simple way to reprimand the Kingdom for cuts to oil production or to stop their war crimes in Yemen. Since its introduction the Khanna/Blumenthal bill has gained only 2 cosponsors in the House and none in the Senate. Luckily there is a piece of legislation already in existence that has both significant levels of support and the legal privilege to get quick consideration. That’s the War Powers Resolution.

Yemen War Powers Resolution, already co-sponsored by 130 members of Congress. That resolution would pretty much terminate all U.S. involvement for the Saudi war in Yemen. By ending U.S. logistical support for the Saudi Royal Air Force the passage of the Yemen War Powers Resolution would effectively ground the American made planes that have been dropping American made bombs on Yemeni civilians for over 7 years. What could be a more powerful way to rebuke the Saudis than for Congress to end all U.S. collaboration with that war? But time is of the essence. Now that the ceasefire in Yemen has ended the fear is that the Saudi bombing and full-scale blockade of Yemen could re-start at any time.

The Raytheon anti-war campaign, seeing the anger at the Saudis as opening up new possibilities for our Yemen solidarity movement, decided to take action. So, on October 27 about a dozen members of the Raytheon campaign took to the edge of Fresh Pond parkway in Cambridge during rush hour with banners and flags to bring our message to the public that the Yemen War Powers Resolution is the best way to rebuke the Saudis — not just for their oil policies but also for their U.S. supported war crimes in Yemen. The feeling was that for the sake of the people of Yemen we need to ride this Congressional anger to get the Saudi-U.S. assault on Yemen finally ended. The hope is that along with past, present and future pressure on Congress, public actions will help generate enough political support to get the Yemen War Powers resolution over the finish line. That 4-year-old effort continues. We are now at a critical point in that effort. Join us!