Biden under scrutiny for fist bump with Saudi Crown Prince

make fun of it His own campaign promise to treat the repressive Saudi kingdom as a “pariah” saw US President Joe Biden greet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who intelligence services believe authorized the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – upon his arrival on Friday with a gracious fist bump at the royal palace in Jeddah.

Already enraged by the president’s decision to meet with the crown prince despite his role in the brutal assassination of Khashoggi in 2018 and subsequent attempted cover-up, human rights defenders reacted with outrage at the salute, which the Saudi regime was quick to receive aired on social media.

“The bloody fist seen around the world” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). “You have humiliated our whole country.”

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Khashoggi – a US citizen who wrote for The Washington Post before being tortured, killed and dismembered with a bone saw at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul – replied on Twitter:

The meeting between Biden and the Saudi Crown Prince, commonly known as MBS, is expected to touch on a range of issues, from the US-backed Saudi war on Yemen to oil exploration amid the ongoing Russian attack on Ukraine. Biden on Thursday refused to commit to bringing up the Khashoggi murder during the meeting.

In an interview prior to Biden’s visit, Cengiz said so Associated Press that Biden is “backing down” on human rights in the interests of boosting oil production. Barely three years ago, during his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden vowed to “pay the price” for the Khashoggi assassination and “actually make them the pariah they are.”

“It’s actually a very big backtrack,” Cengiz said on Thursday. “It’s heartbreaking and disappointing. And Biden will lose his moral authority if he puts oil and expediency ahead of principles and values.”

MSNBC‘s Mehdi Hasan noted in a clip Thursday night that “even by Saudi standards, Mohammed bin Salman is a truly brutal ruler – the worst of the worst.”

“Whatever we get from this meeting – maybe, maybe a slight drop in gas prices – is it really worth selling Jamal Khashoggi’s family, the people of Yemen and our own moral authority and values?” Hassan asked.


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