Islamabad backs Riyadh in oil row with US
ISLAMABAD: On Tuesday, Pakistan sided with Saudi Arabia in its dispute with the US over a reduction in Opec’s oil supplies.
The Foreign Office issued a statement on the increasing crisis, which has seen Washington and Riyadh trade jabs, saying, “In the wake of statements made against the kingdom in the context of Opec+ decision, Pakistan expresses sympathy with the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
After the rift caused by former prime minister Imran Khan’s claim that Washington conspired to remove him following his trip to Russia and President Biden’s recent remarks about “nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” Islamabad’s surprise decision may potentially derail efforts by the government to mend Pakistan-US relations.
In its statement, the FO avoided specifically mentioning the US.
Washington warned to reevaluate its relationship with the country after accusing Riyadh of coercing other Opec+ members to reduce oil production by two million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia’s response was that the Biden administration wanted the output cut to be delayed by one month. The US seems to want the cut to be postponed until after the November midterm elections.
However, the Saudis countered that delaying the cut would have had “negative economic effects.” They argued that other cartel members had backed the choice rather than them making it on their own.
“We understand the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s concerns about preventing market volatility and safeguarding global economic stability,” the FO stated.
Oil prices would rise as a result of the cut, allowing Russia to keep selling its oil and earn money to pay for its conflict in Ukraine. Furthermore, high oil prices would lead to global inflation at an unfortunate time, especially for President Biden given that the US midterm elections are only a few weeks away.
The dispute is thought to be the most serious in US-Saudi relations and it may even have an impact on their bilateral security cooperation. Since President Biden’s inauguration last year, ties between the two sides have deteriorated. This year, he travelled to Saudi Arabia in an effort to patch things up, but it was unsuccessful.
According to the FO, Pakistan supports an approach to such challenges that is constructive and based on cooperation and respect.
The global oil markets hold little appeal to Islamabad. Petroleum-related goods are net imports into Pakistan. The nation benefits naturally from decreasing oil prices. Therefore, even though the cut would result in an increase in oil prices, it would be understood that its support for Saudi Arabia was motivated by a desire to obtain a larger oil facility from Riyadh.
But the decision won’t be well received in Washington.
It’s interesting that this statement was made just days after President Biden called Pakistan “the most dangerous nation in the world” due of its “nuclear weapons without any coherence.”
According to a source in the diplomatic community, the choice was made in light of Saudi Arabia’s policy of standing by it during trying times, in addition to other factors. The FO declared, “We reaffirm our longstanding, steadfast, and fraternal connections with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”