Biden Admin Big Oil John Kiriakou Saudi Arabia

JOHN KIRIAKOU: With President Biden in Saudi Arabia

Biden is in Jeddah to beg the Saudis to increase oil production, but will he betray his previously expressed concern over the Saudi murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi?
In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, welcomes President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Al-Salam palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, July 15, 2022. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)

By John Kiriakou / Original to ScheerPost

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of reports for ScheerPost by correspondent John Kiriakou covering the President’s historic trip to Saudi Arabia. Kiriakou is a former CIA agent and an Arabic speaker with extensive experience working in the Middle East.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA — President Biden arrived in Jeddah, the summer capital of Saudi Arabia, this afternoon for a visit that the White House describes as laser-focused on oil, regional security, and “repairing” the damage that the Trump Administration did to the US’s stature in the region.  He arrived from Israel, where he had received a hero’s welcome and was feted by Israeli politicians on the left and the right.  Even the short time he spent with the Palestinian leadership was warm.  The trip to Saudi Arabia should be so nice.  And the reasons for the visit should be so clear—and so uncomplicated.

The truth is that Biden is arriving in Jeddah with hat in hand to ask the Saudis to increase oil production.  That, of course, would lower oil prices and help the Administration to get a hold on inflation.  But the Saudis (and the Emiratis and the Kuwaitis) already have said that their oil industries are operating near maximum capacity.  They just can’t increase production, they claim.  I doubt they would increase oil production even if they could.  Oil aside, the president has other problems as the visit begins.

Biden has been rightly tough on Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia since becoming president.  Salman runs the day-to-day operations of the country for his infirm, 86-year-old father, and he does so with an iron fist.  He overthrew his cousin, the popular Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, to become Crown Prince.  He jailed everybody within the royal family whom he thought might even eventually pose a threat to him.  He exiled dozens of relatives.  There are rumors that he killed several.  

Biden’s problem with Muhammad bin Salman, of course, is the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and US permanent resident, who was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, apparently on the direct orders of Muhammad, murdered there, and butchered.  His remains have never been found.  Biden has been adamant that he would not speak with Muhammad.  He would not sit down with the man.  He vowed during the 2020 presidential campaign to make Muhammad a “pariah.”  That was, of course, before gas hit $5.00 a gallon.

Biden has waffled on what, exactly, it means to make someone a “pariah.”  In June, the president said that he would not meet with Muhammad on this trip because of the Khashoggi murder.  A few days ago, the White House released a statement saying that Biden would meet with Muhammad, but not one-on-one.  Instead, Muhammad would sit in on the President’s meeting with King Salman.  And in the hours before Biden’s arrival in Jeddah, the White House said that he would, indeed, have a private meeting with Muhammad.  But in a move that has many of Biden’s supporters and human rights activists apoplectic, he would not confirm to journalists that he would even raise the Khashoggi murder.  This afternoon, before even meeting the King, Biden did indeed meet privately with Muhammad.  But they didn’t shake hands.  They fist-bumped each other.

One of the things that surprises me is the risk that Joe Biden is taking just by making this trip.  Going to Israel is one thing.  Going to Saudi Arabia is another thing entirely.  A Saudi visit with nothing to show for it in the end would be politically damaging at home.  What will the American voter think if Biden returns to Washington with no promise of increased oil production?  What will the American voter think if Biden proposes a former regional defense agreement that includes both Israel and Saudi Arabia and nothing comes of it?  What happens if he objects to Saudi Arabia selling oil to China and having them pay for it in yuan instead of dollars and nothing changes?  What happens if he raises the Khashoggi murder and Muhammad tells him to go fly a kite?  The stakes are very high.

Just hours before Biden arrived in Jeddah, the Saudi government announced that the President would fly there directly from Israel.  It would be the first time ever that a plane flew directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia.  And the Saudis added that, effective immediately, Israel’s national air carrier, El Al would be permitted to land in Saudi Arabia, and that the Saudi national carrier, Saudia, would be allowed to land in Israel.  It’s a symbolic move that does literally nothing to help the Palestinian people.  On Saturday, Biden will participate in a multilateral meeting with King Salman, the Amir of Kuwait, the King of Bahrain, the Amir of Qatar, the President of the United Arab Emirates, the Sultan of Oman, the President of Egypt, and the Prime Minister of Jordan.  The White House has told us not to expect any breakthroughs.

John Kiriakou
John Kiriakou

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

9 comments

  1. That is the wild card that no one seems to want to face or deal with. We already know that oil company scientists told us we’d hit peak oil (that is to say, half of it is gone) in the early 2000’s. It’s no coincidence that the fracking boom started just after 9/11 and now there are three times as many oil and natural gas wells in the world than there were in 2001. We were told that there would be a mad dash to tap every source of oil, using methods once thought to be way too expensive. We were told that this would temporarily increase oil output (it did, from 2010 through 2020) but then supplies would plateau. And sometime in the early 2030’s, they would drop off the cliff, causing the price of oil to skyrocket.
    What we are seeing now is the obfuscation and misdirection that governments and big businesses are trying to use to distract us from the obvious. The era of fossil fuels is nearly over. And we have still made no long term plans to replace the energy they produce, or to mitigate the unrest that their absence from the world marketplace will cause.
    And now, as the earth warms out of control, and main driver of economic activity remains fossil fuel, we are starting to see what the end will look like. Something out of Mad Max I’ll wager.

  2. This is the biggest of breakthroughs as Biden returned to his true self (career opportunist politician) meeting with MBS illustrating the utter hypocrite he has been all his life. Once again the United States leadership keeps sinking lower and lower as it clearly declares its allegiance to baking the planet in oil, perpetual war, clear allegiance and loyalty to the apartheid regime of Israel! What can be clearer. Biden is the last of a generation who have lived off the post WWII boom he may just live long enough to preside over the nuclear annihilation of all life on the planet as he proves he worships the God of War Mars instead of the the poor, nonviolent, carpenter from Nazareth.

  3. These two evil bastards deserve each other.

    What always blew me away was Biden never once, not for a minute, ever pretended to be anything but the vile turd that he is. His career is filled with his own bragging about it. Hundreds of videos of his lies, his penchant for little girls, his corruption…a long and verifiable history of evil, yet the sheep ignored it all and made him president.

    How do I know we are beyond redemption? The career of Joe Biden alone is enough.

  4. Two corrupt killers have a meeting. A story as old as time. How does it end? In more killing of course.

  5. Whole thing is utter humiliation for Biden but most of all for collapsing US imperial power looking for last fight before dying.

    Biden wanted to go to SA a month ago to pretend that he cares about US economy and people killing gas prices, he was rebuked.

    Biden’s first visit was not even official visit to SA capital Riyadh as diplomatic protocol requires. It was at best working visit. Biden was not even personally invited but came as he made himself a head of US delegation to Jedda conference.

    Already Biden broke all Campaign promises regarding to MbS like not to deal with him directly as he is not head of state and to never lift ban on offensive weapons exports to SA as they could use it against Israel.

    Now such negotiations (guns for oil) with MbS are ongoing making Israelis furious. I won’t even mention his humiliation having to kiss ass of US intelligence accused murderer of American journalist.

    Biden had no problem to refuse to meet Putin accused of being murderer with oil but he begged for meeting with another alleged murderer with oil.

    And he got nothing for it as his senility and senility of his advisors prevented them from understanding that US global imperial reign is nearly over and US dictate lost its power, as the world is already multipolar and countries of the world looking for new guidance.

    The moronic Jake Sullivan is unaware that the only rational Saudi position as oil exporter is to follow their largest customers in Asia China and India and stick to OPEC+ with Russia as to guarantee maximum revenue for dwindling resources and that inevitably results in weakening petrodollar and soaring dollar prices.

    Idea of another senile moron from Biden administration about Saudi Arabia putting price caps on Russian oil as a sanction against Putin is simply ridiculous as it means handing over control of entire world crude oil market to Biden.

    Somebody tells Yellen that it is OPEC+ business to control global oil prices (including Russian oil price) and they want them high. Such demand is equivalent of asking OPEC to dismantle and handover their oil. It is all nonsense of US imperial hubris.

    America is going down fast primarily because petrodollar is collapsing and dollar ultimately becomes naked fiat not backed by anything but faith and credit of US. America loaded with debt inspires no faith and qualifies for no more credit.

    What’s left is guaranties of near worthless dollar by used to be all mighty American military extortion racket (as General Butler understood) that disintegrates in front of our eyes in Ukraine. US military is impotent can’t threaten or force Russians and Chinese and now even India to do anything at all.

    Russia by opening few years ago Sankt Petersburg commodity exchange and now finalizing fourth in the world, (after WTI, North Sea Brent, and Abu Dhabi) crude oil global benchmark (meaning all prices and trades are will be in rubles) dealt painful blow to dollar.

    By that ruble will become one of world reserve currencies backed by oil and later by commodity basket. Bankers will pile up rubles as it would be equivalent of piling up hard commodities.

    When Chinese demand all their exports be paid in Yuan the game will be over, dollar will collapse worldwide.

    To add insult to Biden injury just today it was announced that next year during meeting in South Africa Saudi Arabia will apply to join BRICS shockingly together with Iran that applies this year and even South Korea and many more wanting stability in commodity markets.

    It looks like rats are leaving sinking dollar ship fast. It looks like expanded BRICS will constitute a political and economic pact between producers and consumers of commodities.

    All world is watching old, weak, senile and broke America perfectly personified by Biden who picked a fight with new, agile, strong and sharp Russia personified by Putin. There could be only one conclusion American century is over.

    But don’t take my word for it look as front pages on American journals and magazines Whether we like it or not it’s time to look toward raising East as west run by psychos is committing suicide.

  6. I like Kiriakou reporting not only the facts on the ground but giving context with focus around the risks on the table and the questions that need answers.

  7. prostrating himself to Wahhabism is only disturbing when it reveals a morally pretentious hypocrisy—2 hermit kingdoms with 2 identical leaders

  8. Great picture.

    The anilingus was done privately.

    The guy on the left is a much bigger murderer than the guy on the right — whose resources and global reach can never match that of the US. Read a news report that when Biden mentioned Khashoggi, the Prince recalled Abu Ghraib.

    Yours is bigger, said the Guardian of Mecca, respectfully . . .

  9. I see no reason why two of the worst human rights abusers in the world should not meet. Everybody needs a friend. Who knows, maybe one of them might even start to act like a normal human being? Maybe if Joe Biden makes a friend, he might rethink this whole Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse thing that he’s been on?

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