Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, has slammed Biden for his expected visit with MBS.
“Biden’s decision to meet with MBS upsets me terribly,” Cengiz told CNN.
Biden has vowed to recalibrate US-Saudi relations over Khashoggi’s murder, but the war in Ukraine has changed his stance.
Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée excoriated President Joe Biden about his planned trip to Saudi Arabia, which would likely include a face-to-face meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the de facto ruler of the kingdom that the United States have explicitly implicated in the brutality of 2018. murder of the journalist.
Hatice Cengiz said that by meeting with MBS, as the Saudi leader is often called, Biden would insult human rights defenders around the world.
“President Biden’s decision to meet with MBS is horribly upsetting to me and to supporters of freedom and justice everywhere,” Hatice Cengiz said in a statement to CNN.
Foreign policy experts and seasoned diplomats have also questioned the wisdom of Biden’s planned visit to Saudi Arabia.
“A presidential trip to Saudi Arabia right now is going to be confirmation, validation not only that business is business as usual, but that MBS got away with murder,” said Aaron David Miller, a former diplomat American who has advised several Secretaries of State on the Middle East. , Insider said last week.
Dalia Dassa Kaye, senior fellow at the UCLA Burkle Center on International Relations, told Insider that Biden traveling to the kingdom would be a “big mistake”, adding, “It’s a bad deal for Biden – he’s risking his reputation and jeopardizing principles for modest yields.”
Khashoggi was killed in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi journalist went to the consulate under the impression that he would get a document that would allow him to marry Cengiz. His assassination by Saudi agents sparked outrage in Washington and prompted many congressional lawmakers to call on the United States to drastically reassess its relationship with the kingdom.
Biden entered the White House pledging to recalibrate US-Saudi relations, promising to make the oil-rich country a “pariah”.
After years of President Donald Trump assuring MBS would not face the consequences of killing Khashoggi – who was a Washington Post columnist and US resident when he was killed – the Biden administration has released a declassified intelligence report which directly linked the Saudi crown prince to the murder. The Biden administration imposed sanctions in concert with the release of the report, but refrained from imposing sanctions on MBS.
Biden also said the United States would stop supporting the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen and snubbed MBS saying he would only communicate with Salman in an official capacity.
There were early signs that Biden would keep his promises – although critics, including Democrats in Congress, have accused him of failing on issues like Yemen due to ongoing arms sales to the Saudis.
But the Russian-Ukrainian war and subsequent oil crisis, which saw gas prices soar, pushed Biden into a corner. With the midterms on the horizon, Biden is now seeking help from Riyadh to deal with the crisis. According to reports from CNN, senior US officials have let the Saudi government know that the Biden administration is ready to adopt a “reset” in relations between Washington and Riyadh. This effectively means allowing shared interests to trump MBS’s punishment for Khashoggi’s murder.
“Both sides have decided that to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East, we have to go beyond that,” an unnamed senior US official told CNN in reference to Khashoggi’s killing.
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