While in Saudi Arabia, US President Joe Biden challenged Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about attacks on dissidents, a country he had once promised to make a “pariah” because of its human rights abuses. On Friday, Biden announced that he had done just that.
The 2018 death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, which US intelligence services alleged he “authorized,” sparked worldwide outrage.
Officials in Saudi Arabia reject Prince Mohammed’s role in Khashoggi’s assassination and claim the journalist was killed in a “rogue” attack.
It was “outrageous” what happened to Khashoggi, Biden said Friday night after meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed.
If something like that happens again, “I just made it obvious they will have that response and much more,” I said. ”
It’s unclear what Biden meant by “that answer,” because earlier in the day, the Vice President had met Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed with a fist bump.
Khashoggi’s fiancée wrote to Biden on Twitter claiming that “the blood of MBS’s next victim is on your hands” in response to Biden’s actions.
Saudi Arabia is a key strategic ally of the United States and a major oil supplier, but Vice President Joe Biden appears to be ready to engage with the country again, despite his earlier criticisms of human rights abuses there.
US officials want the world’s top crude exporter to open the floodgates to bring down skyrocketing oil prices, which are threatening Democratic hopes in the November midterm elections.
However, Biden also tried to dampen hopes that his trip to the Middle East this week would produce immediate results.
For the United States of America, “I’m doing all I can to increase the supply,” he said, adding that concrete results would not be seen for “a few weeks.”