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House Democrats want to reduce Middle East troops after OPEC cut

Look to Putin for defense, Democrats tell Middle East producers after OPEC+ decision

Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., and two of his fellow Democrats called for U.S. military redeployments from Saudi Arabia and UAE following the decision from OPEC+ to cut production quotas. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/01f42f3cf27c5c857babde3733594113/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., and two of his fellow Democrats called for U.S. military redeployments from Saudi Arabia and UAE following the decision from OPEC+ to cut production quotas. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 7 (UPI) -- There's no reason to continue offering military support to Middle East oil giants such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after their decision to trim oil production, U.S. Democrats said.

Despite pleas from U.S. President Joe Biden to do more to keep inflation in check by pursuing measures that would lower energy prices, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their non-member state allies, a group known as OPEC+, agreed to trim their collective production allotments by 2 million barrels per day come November.

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Crude oil prices have rallied significantly on the announcement. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was trading at $97 per barrel, up nearly 6% since OPEC's announcement on Wednesday and $10 per barrel more than at the end of September.

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Legislation proposed Thursday by U.S. Reps. Sean Casten of Illinois, Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Pennsylvania's Susan Wild -- all Democrats -- calls for the removal of U.S. forces and missile defense systems from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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"Both countries have long relied on an American military presence in the Gulf to protect their security and oil fields," they said in a joint statement. "We see no reason why American troops and contractors should continue to provide this service to countries that are actively working against us."

The allotment adjustment is not as large as it seems given that most parties to OPEC+ can't meet their existing quotas. Only Saudi Arabia and the UAE have any real flexibility, though real-world cuts may amount to only half of what's been announced.

Even still, the spike in commodity prices is the primary source of inflationary pressures that could push the world's leading economies into recession. That's been a growing concern for President Biden and his fellow Democrats in the run up to the mid-term elections in November.

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By tacitly driving up the price of oil, Democrats argue, OPEC is not only endangering the global economy, but also funneling money into the Kremlin's war chest. Russia has an influential role in the OPEC+ group and calls for drastic cuts supposedly came straight from the Kremlin.

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"If Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to help (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, they should look to him for their defense," the congressional leaders said.

There are around 5,000 U.S. military personnel deployed in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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It's unclear if the proposed legislation has enough traction among Republicans to move forward, though Malinowski told National Public Radio the bill is "an exact copy" of legislation offered by Senate Republicans when Donald Trump was in the White House.

House Republican leaders, for their part, were equally critical of OPEC's decision, but suggested the focus should be on the domestic energy sector rather than foreign suppliers.

"Making the United States energy independent again would lower energy costs for Americans and reduce our reliance on OPEC for oil," Louisiana's Steve Scalise, South Carolina's Jeff Duncan and Markwanye Mullin of Oklahoma -- all Republicans -- said.

While decisions at OPEC tend to have overwhelming influence on the price of oil, the United States depends on Canada and Mexico for the overwhelming majority of its imported oil. The United States also typically is a net-exporter of crude oil.

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