Biden finally came face to face with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince yesterday, the president’s meek attempt to hold the controversial leader to account for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was smacked down.
The president came under fire for putting gas prices before human rights as he paid a diplomatic visit to Saudi this weekend.
Upon meeting Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) on Saturday, Biden feebly managed to mention the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi authorities in Turkey in 2018.
Many speculated if the president would mention Khashoggi’s murder at all during his talk with MBS, but as Biden opened the topic, MBS smacked him down:
“The United States also made a number of mistakes like the incident of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and others,” said MBS in reference to the US’ human rights abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
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Biden’s botched withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation since the September 11 terror attacks, left the country under control of the Taliban.
The Crown Prince, who is responsible for the Westernization of some parts of Saudi’s sexist laws including allowing women to drive and travel abroad without a male chaperone, also warned the president against trying to force American standards on the Islamic nation:
“However, trying to impose those values by force could have the opposite effect as it happened in Iraq and Afghanistan where the U.S. was unsuccessful,” said a statement issued by Saudi officials to Reuters.
After the meeting, Biden told reporters that he had brought up the murder of Khashoggi straight away and had made his stance known to MBS:
“In respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time, and what I think of it now.
“I was straightforward and direct … I made my view crystal clear.
“What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous,” he added.
According to Biden’s account, MBS denied having any involvement in the killing of Khashoggi, who had been widely critical of the Saudi government and the country’s archaic laws:
“Basically, said he was not personally responsible,” said Biden.
“I indicated I thought he was. He said he was not personally responsible for it, and he took action against those who were responsible.”
But Saudi minister Adel Al-Jubeir who had been present at the meeting told the New York Times he did not hear the president blame MBS for the murder of the journalist and said he had mainly been discussing human rights. He said the president had “addressed the issue of Jamal Khashoggi quickly” and that MBS had “confirmed that what happened is regrettable and we have taken all legal measures to prevent” a similar incident.
Biden seemed to backtrack further in later comments as he attempted to excuse his groveling to the oil rich Saudis by suggesting that:
“No country gets it right all the time – even most of the time – including the United States.
‘I’ve gotten plenty of criticism over the years. It’s not fun.
“But the ability to speak openly and exchange ideas freely is what unlocks innovation.”