Dems’ bill would pull US troops from Saudi, UAE over OPEC+ cuts

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Dems' bill would pull US troops from Saudi, UAE over OPEC+ cuts

A trio of House Democrats have introduced legislation that would remove the United States military from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in response to a drastic cut in oil production by OPEC+, to which both nations belong.

“This decision is a turning point in our relationship with our Gulf partners,” Reps. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and Sean Casten of Illinois said in a statement announcing the bill on Wednesday. 

The lawmakers added that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s support for the output reduction amounted to “a hostile act against the United States and a clear signal that they have chosen to side with Russia in its war against Ukraine.”

“We see no reason why American troops and contractors should continue to provide this service to countries that are actively working against us,” the three said.

OPEC countries under fire for voting to slash oil production.
OPEC countries are under fire for voting to slash oil production.
AFP via Getty Images

“If Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to help [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, they should look to him for their defense,” they asserted. 

OPEC+ announced Wednesday that its member nations would slash oil production beginning in November by about 2 million barrels a day, about 2% of the global supply, a move that the White House called “shortsighted” as the Biden administration tries to keep gas prices from climbing going into November’s midterm elections. 

“The President is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan and director of the National Economic Council of the US Brian Deese said in a statement. 

US troops unfurl flag.
US soldiers fold a flag amid a dispute over OPEC oil production.

U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.
US soldiers train in Saudi Arabia amid calls to curb troop presence after OPEC slashed oil production.

American troops.
American troops operate a Patriot missile system in Saudi Arabia as Democrats calls for troop reduction.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also accused OPEC+ of “aligning” with Putin during a Wednesday gaggle with reporters aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to view Hurricane Ian damage in Florida.

The three Democratic House members said that if Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to continue their relationship with the US, “they must show a greater willingness to work with us — not against us — in advancing what is now our most urgent national security objective: the defeat of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.”

“Instead, by significantly boosting global oil prices, OPEC’s decision appears designed to increase Russia’s oil export revenues, enabling Putin to continue his war crimes in Ukraine, and undercutting Western sanctions,” they said. 

The bill would remove all US military forces and equipment, including high-tech missile defense systems, from the two Gulf countries. 

The troops and the equipment would be relocated to other areas in the Middle East “with the priority mission of protecting United States Armed Forces.”

There are about 5,000 US military personnel in Saudi Arabia and UAE.

The Democratic bill resembles legislation introduced in March 2020 by Republican Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota that also called for the removal of US forces from Saudi Arabia amid a dispute over oil prices.

“[A]s the United States and the rest of the world are battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kingdom continues to reject its leadership role in serving as a stabilizing force for global energy markets,” Sullivan said at the time. “This is unacceptable, particularly because the Kingdom’s actions are directly and negatively impacting the American citizens I am honored to represent. If Saudi Arabia refuses to change course when we’ve requested that it do so, the United States must seriously reconsider the level of American support — including military support — for such partnerships that fail to support us in turn.”

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