US senators propose punishment for top ally

US weaponry protecting Riyadh’s oil infrastructure should be transferred to Ukraine, lawmakers suggest.

US weapons should be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia as punishment for oil production cuts announced last week by the de facto head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Democratic lawmakers said.

“For several years, the US military has deployed Patriot missile defense batteries to Saudi Arabia to help defend oil infrastructure from missile and drone attacks. These advanced air and missile defense systems should either be redeployed to bolster the defenses of NATO eastern flank allies such as Poland and Romania, or transferred to our Ukrainian partners.” Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement Thursday.

Murphy, who is a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also backed calls to “Freeze all new military aid to Saudi Arabia,” and called for the suspension of the planned sale of Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) to Riyadh. The US government had allowed the Saudis to buy 180 AMRAAM missiles for $650 million last year.

“Political decisions have consequences, and these measures would be a good size [the] relations with Saudi Arabia and help Ukraine,” argued the senator.

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Biden promises ‘consequences’ for Saudi Arabia after OPEC decision

Washington has been urging Riyadh to increase oil production for months, arguing that lower prices would hurt Russia and make it harder for Moscow to finance its military operation in Ukraine. However, the OPEC+ group, which includes Russia, outraged the United States last Wednesday by announcing a cut in oil production of two million barrels a day from November.

The decision led by Riyadh, which for decades has been the United States’ main ally in the Gulf region, was “a real slap in the face” Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman from California, to The Guardian newspaper.

“I think this is a total miscalculation on the part of the Saudis.” he said, adding that there was still time for the country to come to its senses and reverse the OPEC+ decision.

“At a minimum, Patriot missiles will be suspended,” Khanna, a longtime critic from Riyadh, suggested. The deal, under which the kingdom would have received 300 Patriot MIM-104E Enhanced Tactical Guided Ballistic Missiles (GEM-T) for $3 billion, was approved by Washington in August.

READ MORE: US calls to punish Saudi Arabia mount

Lawmakers rejected explanations from the Saudi Foreign Ministry, which said earlier this week that the oil output cuts were a unanimous decision by OPEC+ members, taken solely for economic reasons.

“The reality is that there is no economic justification for what they are doing. It was punitive for the Americans and it helps [Russia’s President Vladimir] Fries with cheese “, Khanna insisted.

Dennis Alvarado

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