Trump Silent on Biden's Saudi Diplomatic Debacle

Former President Donald Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent about the Biden administration's latest diplomatic debacle.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the leaders of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), agreed to reduce oil production for the first time since the pandemic in what was largely seen as a rebuke to the West.

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden had urged Middle Eastern allies for greater oil production to help alleviate high gas prices. He even traveled to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in July, despite objections at home over assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But the move by OPEC exposed the limits of Biden's diplomacy. The slash in production will do the exact opposite of Biden's wishes and cause U.S. gas prices to rise just five weeks before the midterms.

Trump Biden OPEC Saudi
Above, former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally at the Covelli Centre on September 17, 2022, in Youngstown, Ohio. Trump has yet to comment on OPEC's October 5 decision, remaining uncharacteristically quiet about President Biden's diplomatic debacle. Jeff Swensen/Stringer

On Wednesday, the White House said the president was "disappointed by the shortsighted decision" and accused OPEC of "aligning with Russia" by choosing to cut two million barrels a day.

Biden's defeat this week comes in juxtaposition to the cozy U.S.-Saudi ties under the Trump administration. Trump had placed Saudi Arabia at the center of his foreign policy in the Middle East during his presidency and maintained a warm relationship with the country throughout the four years he was in the White House.

Since Biden took office, Trump's circle has stayed friendly with the Saudis. Former White House advisor Jared Kushner, who is also Trump's son-in-law, secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the crown prince, while Trump's Bedminster golf club hosted the Saudi-financed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Although Trump may have a number of considerations in keeping quiet on Wednesday's announcement, one main reason could be that his silence would ensure that Biden takes the brunt of the damage from the OPEC decision.

"Given that the Saudi decision follows Biden's high-profile visit earlier this year, Trump would be wise to stay out of the way," Austin Carson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, told Newsweek.

Carson said that while it remains unknown if Trump's silence is a political strategy, "the quiet approach does make some sense in this context."

In the meantime, the Biden administration is "panicking," according to CNN, as the White House seeks to find ways to meet energy demands.

In a statement made Wednesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese announced that Biden ordered the Department of Energy to release 10 million additional barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in November.

Sullivan and Deese said that Biden would also call on U.S. energy companies to keep reducing the gap between wholesale and retail gas prices and that the administration would consult with Congress to see how else the U.S. can reduce OPEC's control over energy prices.

Newsweek reached out to Trump for comment.