By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – In a sign of what his critics view as weak leadership, U.S. President Joe Biden could not get key Middle East leaders on the phone to talk about rising oil prices, several sources confirm.
The White House unsuccessfully tried to set up calls between Biden and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper reported.
Their outreach came as Washington tried to build international support for Ukraine and contain a surge in oil prices that would impact American and European consumers.
Middle East and U.S. officials say Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan “declined” U.S. requests to speak to Biden in recent weeks.
Saudi Arabia also seeks legal immunity for Prince Mohammed in the United States, according to Saudi officials cited by the WSJ. The crown prince faces lawsuits in America, including over the 2018 killing of The Washington Post newspaper columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
During his presidential campaign, Biden described Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state, pledging to make it “pay the price” for human rights abuses.
Sources say the UAE shares Saudi concerns about the restrained U.S. response to recent missile strikes by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen against the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The unwillingness by Middle East leaders to effectively pick up the phone when Biden calls comes while the White House is also under pressure over seeking controversial oil deals.
Reporters asked in recent days about Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Iran possibly supplying oil to the United States as it also considers a possible ban on Russian oil imports.
At a news conference in the White House, media effectively wondered whether dictators are getting too much influence over America’s oil imports.
“Is the supply of oil so important that it’s acceptable to cut deals in some cases with countries that may have engaged in unsavory actions in the past?” asked a reporter with the Associated Press news agency.
“First, I think it’s important to take each of those engagements separately. Because there are a range of issues that are important in each of those, in each of those relationships,” answered White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
She also admitted that the United States was closer to a deal with Iran on its nuclear program that Israel fears will bring it closer to developing nuclear weapons.
“And Iran, the most vital reason, the most important reason why we are focused and have been focused on having these discussions with the Iranians and our P5 + 1 partners is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” she claimed.
She referred to the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members (the P5) China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany. “That is why we’re in these negotiations. We are getting closer,” Psaki added.
Questions remained whether her remarks on oil and nuclear energy convinced Biden’s critics and eased concerns among allies about America’s perceived diminishing influence in a turbulent world.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.