President Biden just fist-bumped a man who has my friend and colleague’s blood on his hands.
It’s not a stretch to say that when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his ascent to power in 2015, he made his mark through fear and repression. He launched a bloody war in Yemen, kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister, blockaded Qatar, imprisoned critics and, most notoriously, orchestrated the operation that murdered Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment.
On the campaign trail, Biden promised us all that he would hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its crimes and make the country a “pariah.”
Instead of transforming the crown prince into an outcast, Biden has made him a pal. On Friday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, the president greeted MBS, as the de facto Saudi ruler is known, with that stunning fist bump. According to news coverage of the day, the crown prince was unrepentant, only smirking when asked by reporters if he would apologize to Jamal’s family. [Continue reading…]
In an open letter to Biden, published in the Post, Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, implored him to cancel the visit. She had waited for Khashoggi outside the consulate as he was suffocated and his body was sawed into pieces. “The details of the suffering he endured have haunted me,” she wrote. She was horrified that Khashoggi’s killers “roamed free” as the U.S. funnelled billions of dollars in military equipment to the Saudi government. The trip “represents not just an unprecedented capitulation to M.B.S.’s reckless, unaccountable rule but an unprecedented doubling down on support for the autocrats of the region, gifting them with a security agreement that no U.S. Administration has ever committed to in the past,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of dawn, a pro-democracy group founded by Khashoggi, told me. [Continue reading…]