by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Reporters were sitting a bit too close by when French President Emmanuel Macron broke the bad news to President Joe Biden.
“I had a call with [Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan],” Macron said to Biden, referring to the leader of the United Arab Emirates. “He told me two things: ‘I’m at a maximum, maximum (production capacity)’ — this is what he claims. And then, he said [the] Saudis can increase by 150 [thousand barrels per day], maybe a little bit more, but they don’t have huge capacities before six months’ time.”
The context is that Biden is counting on both the UAE and Saudi Arabia to increase oil production so as to mitigate the upward price pressure caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And so, if Nahyan is to be believed, Biden is running out of places to find more oil.
This conversation is more delicious because it was inadvertently made public. But what looks like a silly game of telephone between world leaders is more likely a calculated effort by Saudi and Emirati officials to make Biden pay the maximum price possible for whatever help they’re willing to give him.
The fact is, U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE have deteriorated badly under Biden. As a candidate, Biden promised to make the Saudi regime “a pariah.” And since taking office, he has tried to reinstate a destructive nuclear deal with the Saudis’ archenemy, Iran.
It may be that these two oil-producing nations are genuinely unable to do anything for Biden, even if they want to. But one way or another, they intend to rake him over the coals, perhaps as retribution for his insulting behavior toward them.