Name? Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS)
Westphalian identity? Saudi
Why is he in the news? Saudi Crown Prince, and recently appointed Prime Minister, MBS once again populated news pages as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) agreed to a bigger than expected oil cut in output of 2m barrels a day.
Why do we care? The OPEC+ decision represents the latest milestone in a growing relationship between MBS and Putin as it benefits Moscow while humiliating Washington. Given that both leaders have started wars in neighbouring countries, hold significant sway over energy markets and are known to brook no dissent, increasingly with regard to the Biden administration, it’s no surprise that MBS and Biden have grown closer in recent years.
Why should you care? As a result of the OPEC+ decision to continue acting for their own interests, oil prices are likely to rise amidst a cut in the global supply. This increase will further drive up global prices and cause problems, particularly in countries that do not have the budget to shield their populations from these effects. You should care 8/10.
Who else cares? U.S. President Joe Biden. Not only did Biden walk away from his July meeting with MBS with nothing but a fist bump, but the U.S. President also clearly left a sour taste in the Saudi Prince’s mouth as OPEC’s latest decision comes just one month before midterm elections in the States. Thus, Biden’s party must face midterms having lost a key ally in the Middle East to Moscow and amidst rising gas prices.
Any further comments? If the OPEC decision wasn’t enough to empower MBS this week, the Crown Prince’s lawyers have claimed that his appointment as Prime Minister has ensured him immunity from prosecution over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Though vehemently denying that he ordered the killing, MBS has continuously been blamed by foreign governments for the journalist’s death.