US begins ‘shaking up’ Saudi Arabia – what Biden has in store for crown prince

The Saudis will have to forget the Trump administration’s approach of lavishing attention and support on Riyadh

US begins 'shaking up' Saudi Arabia - what Biden has in store for crown prince

Democrats are making it clear that they have their own plans for Saudi Arabia. For example, Washington intends to minimise any direct contact between US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The move will be one of many acts of pressure on Riyadh to “change its approach”, The Guardian wrote.

The next measure will be a report to Congress regarding the murder of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Hashqaji, who was murdered in 2018 by individuals linked to the royal family. The report will assess the Crown Prince’s personal involvement in the incident.

As White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki notes, Biden set out to “reconfigure” US-Saudi relations.

“The American people expect US policy on its strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia to prioritise the rule of law and respect for human rights. Accordingly, the United States will cooperate with Saudi Arabia where our priorities align and will not shy away from defending US interests and values where they do not”, –  was the State Department’s assessment of the coming change.

Biden “would like to hear how Saudi Arabia intends to change its approach,” the US diplomatic office noted. For his part, former CIA analyst and Brookings Institution senior fellow Bruce Riedel said the US would see Saudi Arabia as a pariah as long as Mohammed bin Salman claimed the throne.

“I don’t know what the administration thinks, but the best outcome for Saudi Arabia would be to remove him. He could retire to his castle in France”, –  Riedel suggested.

Michelle Dunn, director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Program, notes that Washington is sending Riyadh several signals at once. First, it is showing a willingness to continue cooperation. Second, it is showing that it is not ready to cooperate with the crown prince.

“Whether that means they hope to use US influence to suggest a change of succession, I don’t know”, – she concludes.