The United States should “rethink” arms sales to Saudi Arabia, following the kingdom’s support for Russia in the war against Ukraine, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Sunday.
“For years, we’ve looked the other way as Saudi Arabia has chopped up journalists, has engaged in massive political oppression, for one reason: We wanted to know that when the chips were down … the Saudis would choose us instead of Russia,” Murphy said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Well, they didn’t.”
He added, “There’s gotta be consequences for that.”
Murphy’s comments followed a decision announced last week by OPEC+ countries, including Saudi Arabia, to cut production by 2 million barrels of oil per day starting next month. That move is seen as favoring Russia, which is largely using its income from oil production to fuel the war against Ukraine; reduced production will raise prices.
Saudi Arabia has made a “strategic error,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“At best, they made a decision that didn’t help the rest of the world. At worst, they align themselves with Putin. We have a problem,” Slotkin said.
The United States could restrict arms sales, reconsider the OPEC+ oil cartel’s immunity from lawsuits, or rethink its troop presence and security relationship in Saudi Arabia, Murphy said.
“I think it’s time to admit the Saudis are not looking out for us,” he said.
Asked about President Joe Biden’s recent meeting with the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, Murphy said he wouldn’t criticize an American president for meeting with another world leader. However, he added, the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is broken.
“It’s clear we that didn’t get as much as we needed to out of that meeting,” Murphy said.
OPEC+’s move to cut oil production prompted some Democrats to sharply criticize the kingdom last week.
“It’s time for our foreign policy to imagine a world without their alliance,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tweeted Thursday, citing higher oil prices, the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and “unanswered questions about 9/11.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), for his part, tweeted in favor of American independence Wednesday, in response to the OPEC+ decision.
Congress should “come to the table to pass comprehensive, bipartisan permitting reform,” Manchin said, pushing a key legislative proposal he was unable to get passed last month.