What was the purpose of Boris Johnson’s trip to the Arab countries and what was the result?
What is the reason for the failure of Boris Johnson’s trip to Arab countries?
Why are the Arab countries not willing to increase their oil production capacity?
What are the views of political analysts on the position of Arab countries regarding their unwillingness to increase oil production capacity?
What are the provisions of the OPEC Plus agreement?
News sources revealed that the UK Prime Minister during his visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE was unable to convince these countries to increase oil production. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has left the British people strapped as the price of a litre of petrol has risen to more than 165 pence and people who previously struggled to make ends meet are now under more pressure as the price of fuel at the pump goes up every day.
Saudi Unwillingness to Increase Oil Production Capacity
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that Russia may cut oil production by 3 million barrels a day in April amid sanctions on its exports, while the agency warns that declining Russian production poses a threat to Europe and will entail a global shock in the supply of oil. In a conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to persuade him to produce millions more barrels of oil, but failed. According to media reports, Boris Johnson said in Riyadh: “We talked about what we can do to stabilise oil prices, to fight inflation, to help consumers, to help people at the gas pumps, at the petrol pumps.” Minister of State at the Foreign Office, James Cleverly Clorelli, also said he “really hoped” that oil production would increase.
Human Rights Organisations Criticise Johnson’s Visit to Saudi Arabia
Boris Johnson’s visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia has drawn sharp criticism from human rights groups and anti-government politicians. Johnson has been one of the few Western officials to travel to Saudi Arabia since the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey. The leader of the British Labour Party, Keir Starmer, has said that the UK Prime Minister, with an empty barrel in his hand, would go from dictator to dictator to get oil. In the past few days, a number of human rights activists and Muslims living in the UK gathered in front of the Saudi Embassy in London to express their anger and disgust with the Saudi regime’s crackdown on Shiites in the country, as well as the killings of Yemenis and Bahrainis.
The Purpose of Boris Johnson’s trip to Saudi Arabia
The aim of Boris Johnson’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE was to place more pressure on these two countries to increase oil production. This aim, however, was not achieved. A spokesman for the UK Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement: “The leaders … discussed opportunities to increase collaboration between the UK and the UAE on energy security, green technology, and trade.” He added that all sides welcomed the long-term partnership between their countries and that “they also agreed on the need to bolster our strong security, defence and intelligence cooperation in the face of growing global threats.”
Boris Johnson fails in Saudi Arabia and the UAE
Observers believe that these brief remarks show that the trip ended without achieving the goals that Johnson was pursuing and that he failed to emerge as an important and trusted figure among the Arab countries who could exert effective pressure on them; just as Biden and other NATO officials failed to change the position of the Arab states on either the energy issue or relations with Russia. Observers say Johnson faced a similar situation in Saudi Arabia as he did in the UAE. Although Saudi Arabia has expressed its understanding of the need to stabilise the oil market, there is no indication that it will accept Britain’s demands for an increase in oil supply to world markets. Asked by a reporter whether Saudi Arabia would put oil production on the agenda to counter rising crude oil prices, Johnson said: “I think you’d need to talk to the Saudis about that. But I think there was an understanding of the need to ensure stability in global oil markets and gas markets.”
Views of Political Analysts on the Position of Arab Countries
Political analysts believe that the Arab countries’ transparency on the energy issue has led to a cover-up of the UK Prime Minister’s remarks about the pressure he was going to put on human rights issues in Riyadh and that these pressures have been replaced by remarks such as partnership and desire for security and intelligence cooperation as a way to soften the position of these countries. Observers believe that UAE and Saudi positions on oil exposed the fragility of the West, especially the notion that the US and Western countries could change the situation by placing pressure on the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. When asked if the recent executions were discussed, Johnson said “in spite of the news that you’ve referred to, things are changing in Saudi Arabia”, adding “that’s why we see value in the partnership”. Observers say the purpose of such a position is to avoid provoking the Saudi Crown Prince on a sensitive issue and, at the same time, avoid stabbing himself in the foot, which should explain to the British people that he was asked to put pressure on Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE Adhere to OPEC Plus
Johnson’s remarks, praising the role of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the energy sector, were not successful in changing their position on the OPEC Plus agreement and accepting scheduled oil pumping into the markets. The OPEC Plus group, which also includes Russia, is committed to a monthly increase in output of 400,000 barrels per day and has resisted pressure to speed up the process. There are many challenges for Johnson, who is trying to change the oil policy of Saudi Arabia and OPEC. Saudi Arabia has so far confirmed that it is unwilling to go beyond the current OPEC Plus agreement to increase limited monthly production.
Saudi Arabia and UAE Security Cooperation with the UK
Boris Johnson met with Saudi and UAE leaders to discuss rising oil prices due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Office of the UK PM announced that Johnson and Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, agreed to work together on energy stability and the transfer of renewable energy. However, the UK Prime Minister at the time did not directly say whether Saudi Arabia was ready to increase oil production. During Johnson’s visit to Saudi Arabia, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries to establish a Strategic Partnership Council. The UK Prime Minister also said that Riyadh would announce £1 billion investment in eco-friendly jet fuel facilities in the UK. The UK Prime Minister left for the UAE after Saudi Arabia. At a meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, he stressed the importance of cooperation to improve stability in the global energy market. Although the UAE did not issue an official statement, the state-run news agency WAM reported that they discussed the stabilisation in the global energy markets.
Only Saudi Arabia and the UAE among OPEC countries have a significant excess capacity that could immediately help offset the decline in supply from Russia. Saudi Arabia and the UAE together produce more than 13 million barrels of oil. The conflict in Ukraine has pushed oil prices above $100 a barrel, with experts warning of further increases. At the same time, Western countries, including the UK, are trying to reduce their dependence on Russian energy sources.