MBS scoffs at Biden, asks what he’s doing about Abu Akleh murder

Saudi prince decries alleged American hypocrisy on human rights issues.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sniped at U.S. President Joe Biden regarding the American response to the shooting death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,after Biden raised the murder of a Saudi journalist with the royal.

Relations between Biden and the prince have been frosty since the president took office in January 2021.

During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “global pariah” due to the Gulf Kingdom’s reported involvement in the assassination of dissident Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But recently, Biden has walked back that rhetoric. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a steep rise in gas prices, he has sought to ramp up Saudi production of oil – a request that so far appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

Biden landed in Saudi Arabia on Friday for a whirlwind trip to the kingdom, staying for less than 24 hours and meeting separately with the current ruler, King Salman, and his future successor, the prince.

After the meeting, Biden told reporters that he “made it clear [to Prince Mohammed] what I thought of [the Khashoggi killing] at the time and what I think of it now.”

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Prince Mohammed called the killing “regrettable” but denied that he or other Saudi government officials had ordered the assassination.

Notably, the prince then brought up “the killing of [Palestinian-American] journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and asked what the U.S. and other countries have done in that regard,” according to an Al Arabiya report.

He also reportedly rattled off a number of human rights “mistakes” committed by the U.S., including the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The prince appeared to embrace the narrative pushed by Abu Akleh’s family and her employer, Al Jazeera, who have repeatedly charged that Israel intentionally killed the journalist.

Saudi Arabia was also quick to contradict Biden’s declaration of victory regarding a move to open the kingdom’s air space to Israeli air traffic.

The move is “a big deal, not only symbolically but substantively,” Biden said on Friday evening at a media conference.

“This is the first tangible step on the path of what I hope will eventually be a broader normalization of relations” between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish State, he added.

“No, this has nothing to do with diplomatic ties with Israel,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal said shortly after Biden’s statement.

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“The issue of overflights is a decision we took… in the interest [of] providing connectivity between countries in the world, and we hope that it will make some travelers’ lives easier. It’s not in any way a precursor to any further steps.”