Malinowski wants U.S. troops to leave Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates

Personnel assigned to the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing and Royal Saudi Air Force, pose for a group photo Sept. 27, 2022, at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The mission of the 378th AEW is to defend joint forces at Prince Sultan Air Base while projecting combat air power in support of the theater plans and operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shannon Bowman)

Three Democratic lawmakers want U.S. troops to leave Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after they supported a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut oil production by two million barrels per day.

By slashing production, the oil-producing cartel is expected to drive up gas prices at a moment when global production needs to increase to meet demand and replace Russian exports blocked by sanctions.

Representatives Tom Malinowski, Sean Casten, and Susan Wild are introducing a bill that would mandate the removal of U.S. troops and missile defense systems from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In response to OPEC’s decision, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said, “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.”

The United States maintains about 3,000 troops in Saudi Arabia and 2,000 in the UAE, plus fighter squadrons, F-35 fighters, and other weapons systems in those countries operated by U.S. personnel. 

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Steve Veers and Air Force Airman 1st Class Isac Veers inspect an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Steve Veers and his son, Air Force Airman 1st Class Isac Veers, inspect an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s drastic cut in oil production, despite President Biden’s overtures to both countries in recent months, is a hostile act against the United States and a clear signal that they have chosen to side with Russia in its war against Ukraine,” said Malinowski in a joint statement with Casten and Wild.

“Both countries have long relied on an American military presence in the Gulf to protect their security and oil fields,” said Malinowski. “We see no reason why American troops and contractors should continue to provide this service to countries that are actively working against us. If Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to help Putin, they should look to him for their defense.”

“This decision is a turning point in our relationship with our Gulf partners,” said Malinowski. “If Saudi Arabia and the UAE hope to maintain a relationship with the United States that has been overwhelmingly beneficial to them, 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.”

“Many argued that we had to ‘repair’ our relationship with our Gulf partners to win their cooperation in stabilizing global energy markets following Russia’s invasion, and President Biden made every effort to do so, going so far as to meet the Saudi Crown Prince personally in Riyadh, despite his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” said Malinowski. “Saudi Arabia and the UAE have now answered our overtures with a slap in the face that will hurt American consumers and undermine our national interests.”

“It is time for the United States to resume acting like the superpower in our relationship with our client states in the Gulf,” said Malinowski. “They have made a choice and should live with the consequences. Our troops and military equipment are needed elsewhere.”

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