President Donald Trump exulted “I saved his ass,” as if protecting a murderer from punishment was worth celebrating. MbS naturally hoped for four more years.
However, President Joe Biden is now in charge, and he called the Kingdom’s de facto ruler a “pariah” who was killing “innocent people.” The Biden administration is filled with officials who worked for President Barack Obama and regret giving Riyadh a blank check for its brutal war of aggression against Yemen. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Biden “has made clear that we will end our support for the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and I think we will work on that in very short order.” Today would not be soon enough.
In response, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is putting on a confident public face. For instance, Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan declared: “We are optimistic of having excellent ties with the U.S. under a Biden administration.” In a desperate resort to flattery, he also complimented the new president on his appointees, observing that they shared an “understanding of the common issues.”
Moreover, the crown prince temporarily dropped his swaggering arrogance hoping to placate the new occupant of the White House. The Wall Street Journal, a fan of the brutal, corrupt royals, argued approvingly that Riyadh—which has promoted murder and mayhem throughout the region—“is making concessions to improve stability in its neighborhood.”
For instance, last month Loujain al‐Hathloul was sentenced to nearly six years in prison, but the regime‐controlled court suspended two years of the sentence; given time served, she will be released soon. MbS had earned global opprobrium for arresting her for campaigning against the Kingdom’s ban on women driving (since lifted). National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called her imprisonment “unjust and troubling.” Al-Hathloul’s most serious offense apparently was working with foreign human rights groups, which sullied the regime’s reputation.