Necessity drives Joe Biden on his most awkward trip: He will visit Saudi Arabia, a country he has promised to treat as a “pariah.”

Washington: In 2019, during a debate at the beginning of the presidential campaign, the then-candidate Joe Biden promised to treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah”, And “make them pay” for The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In early 2021, already in the White House, Biden ordered the release of an intelligence report accusing the prince Mohammed bin Salman To order the assassination of Khashoggi. now with Gasoline prices are at levels never seen before With his popularity dropping, Biden will board Air Force One and travel to Shaking hands with the monarchy that promised to turn its back.

The White House confirmed this Biden will travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia In mid-July “to advance the economic, diplomatic and security interests of the United States,” a regional tour of the Middle East will represent An awkward turn, imposed by circumstances, In the foreign policy of a democratic administration.

Biden had promised to be a staunch defender of human rights and a champion of democracy in the global struggle with authoritarian regimes. But the war in Ukraine and soaring oil prices hit the pumps of US service stations, and followed the already waning popularity of the president, who is now forced to re-engage with the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh – accused of abuses and abuses. Fundamental rights – to try to pacify the prices at home.

In this photo released by the Saudi royal palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Tuesday, December 14, 2021, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Bandar Al-Leod/Saudi Royal Palace via AP, File)

Biden will participate during his visit to Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Cooperation Council summit at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Currently chairing the forum, Saudi Arabia, in addition to being the world’s largest oil exporter, is ahead of Russia, the target of an unprecedented Western sanctions attack.

“Although energy security is important, it is not the only issue,” Keen to highlight presidential spokeswoman Karen-Jean-Pierre, in a instructions With reporters on board Air Force One, when they asked him if the flight was a desperate attempt to lower oil and gasoline prices. Saudi Arabia chairs OPEC+, which is the main exporter. Of course we are discussing energy with the Saudi government. But Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of the United States for 80 years and there is no doubt that important interests overlap with Saudi Arabia.‘, complete.

The second question Jean-Pierre asked about the trip was whether Biden would play a role Khashoggi’s assassination With Prince Mohammed bin Salman if you see him on the trip. “Human rights are always part of the conversation in our international engagements. We do not condone any conduct that occurred before the President took office,” the spokeswoman responded.

Although Biden’s trip is a regional tour of the Middle East, the stop in Saudi Arabia, in the city of Jeddah, has attracted all the attention because it represents one of the most dramatic shifts in the president’s foreign policy.

During the presidential campaign, Biden promised to turn the Saudi monarchy into a “pariah,” a position that also stood in stark contrast to his rival, the then president. Donald Trump, who has established a very close relationship with Riyadh. His son-in-law Jared Kushner developed a personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Trump has never filed a complaint about human rights abuses in the country, nor has he denied the killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for the British Guardian newspaper. Washington Posta loyal critic of the monarchy.

During his tenure, Trump received an award from King Salman
During his tenure, Trump received an award from King SalmanJonathan Ernst/Reuters

Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident, was tortured, killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by a force of Saudi activists who, according to US intelligence, responded to an order from Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh has long denied any involvement of the crown prince in the murder.

In 2019, Biden promised in one of the first debates in the presidential campaign that he would make the monarchy pay for Khashoggi’s murder. “In fact, Let’s make them pay the price and turn them into outcasts themselvesIn the same debate, Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders described Saudi Arabia as a “brutal dictatorship.”

Now, the Biden government has positioned Riyadh as a “strategic partner,” and Biden will repeat the practice of all American presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt: a face-to-face meeting with the Saudi monarchy. The Saudi embassy in Washington said Biden would meet King Salman and Prince Mohammed – the White House did not confirm this – and described the visit as an invitation from the king “to Strengthening the historical bilateral relations and the distinguished strategic partnershipBetween the two countries.

For the White House, the trip carries a political cost, both foreign and domestic. Several officials have had to answer in recent days as to why the democratic government of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela is offering different treatment than that of Saudi Arabia or China. Senator Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Democratic caucus and a Biden ally, said he had “concerns” about the trip and the Saudis did not share US values.

Hala al-Dosari, a prominent Saudi human rights advocate who lives in the United States, told The Associated Press that Biden’s decision to travel and meet Prince Mohammed was a “betrayal.”

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