In a Fox News interview with Bill O’Reilly today, Crown Prince Abdullah’s foreign policy advisor Adel Al-Jubeir responded to recent pro-Kerry political ads critical of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom’s close relationship with President Bush by commenting that the United States is in the middle of a heated presidential campaign and “many strange things are often said in such times”. Saudi Arabia, he said, will deal with whoever wins the election in November.
Turning to oil prices, Mr. Al-Jubeir explained that in the Kingdom’s view current prices contain a 7-10 dollar a barrel fear premium because of concerns about possible supply disruptions. Another factor is a problem with overall refining capacity in the United States and environmental regulations that make it difficult for refiners outside the country to make the proper blends of gasoline. Finally, he noted, demand for oil is increasing in China and India. “If America’s policy for the past 60 years has been to come up with a viable energy policy, we encourage that because we believe the world is running out of crude oil,” he said. To help meet world demand, Saudi Arabia is currently producing 9.5 million barrels per day, and has capacity for another 1.5 million bpd, but customers have not yet requested additional supplies.
Asked about reforms in the Kingdom, Mr. Al-Jubeir explained that the Kingdom is gradually moving to implement democratic reforms and would continue to do so at a pace judged prudent by the Saudi people. Municipal elections, he said, will be held in February of next year. He also reassured the American people that the Kingdom is doing everything possible to fight terrorism and cut off any financial support the terrorist may have.
Mr. Al-Jubeir expressed the hope that American policy would succeed in creating a peaceful and stable Iraq. The argument over the reasons for going to war is misplaced, he said. It is now a fact and the world and region need to “find ways of resolving it in a way that is best for the Iraqi people, that ensures regional stability and that allows the U.S. to extricate itself from the country after it has stabilized it.”