Hope of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia cutting US gasoline costs ‘unrealistic’

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Updated 18 July 2022

Hope of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia cutting US gasoline costs ‘unrealistic’

Hope of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia cutting US gasoline costs ‘unrealistic’
  • Energy prices set by oil refining, geo-political factors, say experts
  • US leader has to refocus on key trade and security pacts with the Kingdom

CHICAGO: President Joe Biden’s expectation to reduce US gasoline prices with his impending trip to Saudi Arabia are unrealistic because energy costs are driven by global market and political variables, say experts.

Gas prices at the pump have doubled over the past four months and weakened the American economy, and that is hurting Biden who faces losing control of both the US House and Senate in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Schenker and Saudi analyst and researcher Salman Al-Ansari both said that simply increasing the production of oil as many hope will happen, will not reduce costs because of industry limitations on refining capacity and European geo-political factors.

 

 

“When President Biden came to office, gas was $2 a gallon. It is now $5 a gallon on the East coast. He really wants Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf partners, the UAE, Kuwait and others, (including) Qatar to increase production to lower the price of oil. There are limitations in terms of capacity, surge and production. But also really some problems with our refining capacity. That is top on his agenda,” Schenker said.

“I think you get a couple hundred thousand barrels more, maybe 150. But even if you got a million barrels or 2 million barrels on the market, I think it is important for American consumers to know, it may not make a great deal of a difference to us because that oil isn’t coming to us. It is going to the global market. What’s more if you listen to the Saudis, and what I heard when I was in Riyadh and Dhahran, I went to Aramco my last trip, a month and a half ago to Saudi, they tell you … we can do a little bit more but production isn’t the problem. The problem is refining capacity.”

 

 

Al-Ansari agreed, saying: “Some people think of Saudi producing more oil, etcetera, but I don’t think that will happen in a dramatic kind of manner because Saudi Arabia is committed to OPEC+ agreements.”

“And let’s not forget the issues of high energy prices are not related to the lack of supply of oil but rather the effect of geo-political tensions in Europe and the fact that Russia supplies 30 percent of Europe’s oil and 40 percent of gas demand.”

Schenker said that Biden is hoping to “reset” the relationship with Saudi Arabia which he harshly criticized during his campaign and through the first 18 months of his presidency.

“Biden is also trying to reset the relationship with Saudi Arabia. (There) was basically a deliberate scuttling of the relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Schenker said.

Al-Ansari explained that the Saudi-US relationship has been productive for both countries since it began 76 years ago during a meeting between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud.

 

 

“The relationship has been there for more than 76 years or almost eight decades. I would quote the State Department Secretary Mr. Blinken and he said the US-Saudi Arabian relationship is important and bigger than any individual. I think both parties understand the importance of this mutual and beneficial relationship. Saudi Arabia is considered the biggest trading partner for the United States in the Middle East,” Al-Ansari said.

“When it comes to Saudi Arabia, the United States is considered the second (biggest trading partner). And also for the United States globally, Saudi Arabia is considered to be (its) number 12 biggest trading partner ... So, we are speaking about a very important relationship. Let’s not forget the fact that Saudi Arabia is the center and heart of the Arab and Muslim world. You cannot basically solve any issue in the Arab or Muslim world without getting Saudi Arabia involved, and Saudi Arabia has been involved heavily since the beginning of the relationship.”

Al-Ansari added that Saudi Arabia has been a dependable partner for the US and the West not only in tempering dramatic swings in oil costs but also confronting rising extremism.

“There are actually three pillars of the Saudi-US initiative and Saudi-US partnership that happened throughout history. The first was selling oil (at) cheap prices to the United States and that is very essential and important for the US to become what it became,” Al-Ansari said.

“And the second was (to) foil the Marxist, socialist, communist doctrine in the Middle East and globally. And Saudi Arabia worked with the United States to combat communism. And the third pillar was to counter terrorism. And let’s not forget the fact that Saudi Arabia has been the biggest victim and it was on the receiving end of most of the Al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorist attacks. Saudi Arabia received more than 60 terrorist attacks from Al-Qaeda and more than 35 terrorist attacks from Daesh, ISIS; and Saudi Arabia worked with the United States to obliterate ISIS and Al-Qaeda, also in Yemen and from so many different places like Iraq and Syria.”

During the radio interview, both Schenker and Al-Ansari said that confronting Iran is a key issue that Biden will have to address. They also said they do not expect any major breakthroughs on the Palestine-Israel stalemate.

The Ray Hanania Show is broadcast live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Greater Detroit including parts of Ohio, and WDMV AM 700 radio in Washington D.C. including parts of Virginia and Maryland. The show is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 7 a.m. in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Chicago at 12 noon on WNWI AM 1080.

You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting ArabNews.com/rayradioshow.

 

 

 


US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine
Updated 28 September 2022

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine
  • The package of orders for US military suppliers includes Himars missile systems and ammunition
  • The new package took the total military aid from the United States to Ukraine since the Russians invaded on February 24 to $16.2 billion

WASHINGTON: The United States announced Wednesday a new package of arms and supplies for Ukraine worth $1.1 billion for reinforcing Kyiv’s forces over the medium and long term.
The package of orders for US military suppliers includes Himars missile systems and ammunition, systems to counter drones, radars and armored vehicles, according to a Defense Department statement.
The package “represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed Forces” as they continue to battle the invading Russian army, the Pentagon said.
The new package took the total military aid from the United States to Ukraine since the Russians invaded on February 24 to $16.2 billion.
It includes 18 more Himars systems, highly accurate missile systems which the Ukrainians have been using effectively since June to hit Russian arms depots and command posts far behind the front lines.
It also includes 150 armored vehicles, 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, trucks and trailers, and systems to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s Iranian-made drones increasingly deployed on the battlefield.


Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
Updated 28 September 2022

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
  • King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe
  • The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio, held a summit meeting on September 28 with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is currently in Japan after attending the state funeral for former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo.
At the outset of the meeting that lasted 10 minutes according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo, Kishida expressed his appreciation for the king’s attendance at the state funeral and expressed his hope to hold discussions to further develop the diplomatic legacy inherited from the late former Prime Minister Abe.
King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe, and stated that late former Prime Minister Abe was a great friend of not only Jordan but also the region and shared the hope to develop the bilateral relationship based on his legacy.
Prime Minister Kishida extended his congratulations to Crown Prince Hussein’s engagement and expressed his wish for the long-lasting prosperity of the Jordanian Royal Family and further development of friendly relations with Japan’s Imperial Family.
The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace. Prime Minister Kishida expressed his concern about the impact of the price hike of food and fuel on Jordan, which is hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees, and stated that Japan would continue its support for Jordan, including its support to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees).
In response, King Abdullah II expressed his gratitude for Japan’s wide-ranging cooperation for Jordan and UNRWA and stated that he would like to cooperate with Japan in advancing projects involving countries in the region.
The two leaders confirmed that they will continue to work closely together for the long-term stability of the region, according to the ministry.
 


EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
Updated 28 September 2022

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
  • Ursula von der Leyen: ‘We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine ... we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation’
  • Von der Leyen: ‘We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia’

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed fresh sanctions against Russia over its war against Ukraine, including further trade restrictions, individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.
The proposal will now go to the bloc’s 27 member countries, which will need to overcome differences on the new sanctions and reach unanimity to implement them.
That may take time despite the EU being spurred into action by Russia’s partial military mobilization, nuclear threats to the West and moving to annex a swath of Ukraine.
“We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine. And we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation,” von der Leyen told reporters.
“We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a senior economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the EU to further cut money flows to Russia from fossil fuel sales.
The G7 group of industrialized countries — where EU countries Italy, France and Germany are also members — already agreed to put such an oil price cap in place via insurers.
“If you are doing nothing it means you are just prolonging this war with Ukraine, this is just ridiculous, the whole civilized world has to be united on that,” Oleg Ustenko told reporters.
While the EU already agreed to stop importing Russian oil starting later this year, Ustenko said the “blood money” would keep on flowing to Moscow unless European companies are banned from insuring seaborne shipments.


Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
Updated 28 September 2022

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
  • The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday
  • “We have to react before the smugglers react,” said Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner
BERLIN: Austria announced Wednesday that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia, following a similar decision by the Czech Republic, in a move that’s aimed at keeping migrants from entering.
The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday, the Austrian government said.
The Austrian interior ministry said the border controls are a response to the Czech Republic’s announcement, a day earlier, of controls on its border with Slovakia starting Thursday, and aim to ensure that human traffickers do not use Austria as an alternative.
“We have to react before the smugglers react,” Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner told public broadcaster ORF.
Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all belong to the European Union’s visa-free Schengen zone where people can normally cross borders without getting checked. However, temporary border controls have repeatedly been reinstated in the past, whether to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic or to stop migrants from entering illegally.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters later on Wednesday that he would meet Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic next week to discuss the issue of migration.
“The states are not doing this for their own sake, but to fight organized crime and smuggling and to reduce the pressure from the borders,” Nehammer said in Vienna.
Austria introduced controls along its borders with Hungary and Slovenia in 2015, when more than 1 million migrants from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan entered the European Union. The Alpine country has repeatedly extended those controls, which remain in place.
Back then, only about 8,500 migrants were detained in the Czech Republic, while this year so far 12,000 migrants have been detained, the Czech interior ministry said, adding that most of them were Syrians. A total of 125 human smugglers have been arrested in the Czech Republic this year, a significant increase compared with the previous years.
Most migrants don’t want to stay in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, but travel through them to reach wealthier places like Germany, Sweden or Austria.
The Austrian border controls will initially be enforced at 11 crossing to Slovakia for 10 days.

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
Updated 28 September 2022

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
  • Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday said claims that Russia was somehow behind a possible attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines were stupid, adding that Moscow saw a sharp increase the profits of US companies supplying gas to Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily conference call with reporters that the incident needed to be investigated and the timings for repair of the damaged pipelines were not clear.
Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea from two Russian gas pipelines at the center of an energy standoff.
Asked about claims Russia might somehow be behind the possible attack, Peskov said: “That’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid.”
“This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas — the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive... Now the gas is flying off into the air.”
“Before making any claims, we should wait for investigation into these ruptures, whether there was an explosion or not,” Peskov said. Information on the incident could be expected from Denmark and Sweden, he said.
Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday that three of four offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day. All Nord Stream’s pipeline had not delivered gas by the time of the incident.
Nord Stream 1 has reported a significant pressure drop caused by the gas leak on both lines of the gas pipeline, while Nord Stream 2 said that a sharp pressure drop in line A was registered on Monday.