The West has to bite its lip for Saudi oil

It would be ridiculous to claim that Boris Johnson’s visit to Saudi Arabia is not morally problematic. He is going to a country which held a mass execution for 81 people this weekend – a record number – and to visit a man who US intelligence blames for the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yet, if the West wishes to reduce Vladimir Putin’s leverage – and stabilise the oil market – then it needs Saudi Arabia to pump more; no country has more spare capacity than Saudi Arabia, which could produce another 1.5 to 2 million barrels a day if it wanted to. The best solution is – obviously – for the

Can Boris get the Saudis to pump more oil?

The oil price is up by more than 40 per cent since the start of the year. It is being driven up by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the lack of investment in oil and turning the world economy on and off again: US production is still not back to pre-pandemic levels. In the immediate term, as I say in the Times today, pretty much the only way to bring the price down is to get Saudi Arabia – which has 1.5 to 2 million barrels a day of spare capacity – to pump more. The West’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has always been morally problematic. The justification for it, despite Riyadh’s appalling

Why would the Saudis bail out Biden?

Is Saudi Arabia shunning Washington? Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly been refusing to phone Joe Biden, who wants the kingdom to turn on its oil taps as the West desperately seeks alternatives to the Russian energy market.  Riyadh – the world’s largest oil exporter – has so far failed to accommodate Washington’s pleas. Ahead of the Russian invasion in mid-February, the US asked the Opec+ cartel – of which Saudi Arabia is the most important member – to produce more oil to slow the already rising prices. Opec+ stood firm, and said they would increase production by 400,000 barrels a day in April, a rise agreed before the threat of a

Could an Israeli-Saudi peace deal be imminent?

The Israeli-Saudi peace deal is, to coin a phrase, oven-ready, a source close to the negotiations told me this week. After many months of covert meetings, the detail has been agreed and the Israelis are ready to commit. All that’s needed is for the Saudis to sign on the dotted line. This means that an alliance could be sealed within six months. Of all the Arab-Israeli peace agreements, a Saudi deal would be the most significant. The Gulf kingdom is a huge country that comes close to bordering Israel, and, as such, is of great strategic weight. It is the largest economy in the Middle East. And as the custodian

Did MBS kompromat Boris?

Boris Johnson is a big fan of Mohammed bin Salman. But why? Back in 2018, the then-foreign secretary was keen to sing the praises of the Saudi Crown prince. In an article for the Times, Boris was clear that MBS was good news: ‘I believe that the crown prince, who is only 32, has demonstrated by word and deed that he aims to guide Saudi Arabia in a more open direction.’ A few months on, Boris came under fire for accepting a £14,000 trip to Saudi Arabia from the country’s foreign affairs ministry. Only days later, Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.