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A Saudi Aramco sign is pictured at an oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia.

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The Saudis’ big oil cut begins. How long will it last?

The Saudis’ controversial plan to slash oil production by 1 million barrels per day officially kicked off on July 1. The kingdom hopes that these voluntary cuts will help raise oil prices, which have remained sluggish for the better part of 2023. (The OPEC+ cartel – which include resource-rich countries in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, plus Russia – surprised observers when they announced some output cuts back in the spring that briefly drove up prices.)

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Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud arrives for an OPEC meeting in Vienna.

Reuters/ /Leonhard Foeger

Global oil prices and a “Saudi lollipop”

In a dramatic decision, Saudi Arabia announced Sunday that it will take a unilateral step to slash its oil output by 1 million barrels per day in order to boost global oil prices.

Other OPEC+ states – which include resource-rich countries in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, plus Russia – committed to extending earlier cuts announced in April through the end of 2024, though they didn’t go even deeper like the Saudis.

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Will Biden say sorry to MBS?

Bizarre marriages of convenience dominate the geopolitical landscape: Russia and China; Iran and Venezuela; Israel and Turkey. The list goes on.

When President Biden came into office, he said he wouldn’t give a “blank check” to the world’s autocrats, including those associated with longtime US allies.

As part of his human-rights focused foreign policy, Biden rejected any dialogue with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the 36-year-old de facto Saudi leader who’s credited with big reforms like allowing Saudi women to drive. He’s also overseen acts of incredible brutality, including the murder of dissident-journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the scorched-earth military campaign in Yemen.

But two years in and ample crises later, Biden is ready to sit down for a face-to-face with MBS next month in Riyadh. Why the massive about-face?

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