Will NOPEC Bill Spell the End of Saudi Treachery?

Photograph Source: amanderson2 – CC BY 2.0

It’s been 21 years since our “friends” in Saudi Arabia flew jetliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9-11. Even though 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens and the Saudi royal family has been linked to funding the attack — the Bush administration allowed dozens of top-level Saudis to fly home without questioning, much to the shock of Americans mourning the loss of 3,000 of our fellow citizens. Now, however, after the latest stab in the back from the Saudis, it looks like Congress may at long last finally have had enough of being played for suckers by the OPEC oil cartel and intend to do something about it.

Those who track the history of US involvement in Saudi Arabia will remember that it was ARAMCO — the Arabian-American Company — founded by Standard Oil in 1933 that led to the development and unimaginably massive profits flowing from the second largest known oil reserves on the planet.

Yet, having benefited enormously from American technology and investment, the Saudis turned around in 1973-74 to severely cripple the U.S. with the “Arab Oil Embargo” that cut off all oil exports to the U.S. because of American support for Israel in the Arab-Israeli War. The result? Oil prices increased 300% in a matter of months as Americans suffered with long lines and empty gas stations.

Of course the U.S. was totally reliant on fossil fuel energy in those days and our presidents, Democrat or Republican, continued to kow-tow to the Saudis to keep the black gold flowing, despite the fact the Saudis manipulated the global oil market to benefit themselves while fleecing American families and our economy.

And now, they’re doing it again — only this time in concert with Russia. Saudi greed would be reason enough for their decision to drastically cut production to raise prices. But since the international sanctions on Russia for its brutal and widely-condemned invasion of Ukraine have severely reduced its oil and gas revenues, it’s the Saudis who give the “middle-finger salute” to the rest of the civilized world that’s desperately trying to end the Ukraine war. The same royal government that ordered the murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi and earned Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman the title of “Mohammed Bone Saw.”

Faced with inflationary pressures on American budgets brought on by the effects of the pandemic and disrupted supply chains, a bipartisan group of senators has decided to fight back and have already moved the latest version of the NOPEC Act (No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act) through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

According to its chief sponsor, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, “we should at least hold foreign producers accountable for harmful price fixing.” Democrat co-sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar added: “This bipartisan legislation would allow U.S. antitrust laws to be enforced against OPEC producers.”

It’s half a century since 1973 and “the times they are a changing.” As the 100% solar-powered Florida community that came through Hurricane Ian’s direct hit and retained all its water, electricity and internet services proved, we are no longer at the mercy of ruthless Saudis and the OPEC cartel.

Busting them with anti-trust laws may be slow, but it’s definitely a step forward. Yet, if we really want to say “good-bye to Bone Saws,” these same bipartisan senators and President Biden should invest billions to immediately build out the alternative, renewable, and clean energy sources now available — and tell Bone Saw and Russia they can sit on their oil and gas reserves till Hell freezes over.

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Daily Montanan, where this essay originally appeared.