He is now in Saudi Arabia, meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and a variety of other Saudi officials. Among other reasons, he’s meeting to talk about them producing more oil.
Biden has hedged when asked about meeting with MBS personally because he had previously termed the nation a pariah over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Indeed, that was why some speculated that he might suddenly be adopting a “fist bump” policy while in the Middle East, so there wouldn’t be the image of him shaking hands with MBS. Biden had no problem shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.
They may have been on to something there because when Biden met MBS, that’s exactly what he happened. Biden gave him a fist bump.
President Biden fist pumping the Saudi crown prince MbS, the same hands that have blood from killing Khashoggi and people of Yemen and activists inside!pic.twitter.com/ZLrYrDPsj6
— د. عبدالله العودة (@aalodah) July 15, 2022
The Saudi government is quick to post photos of the fist bump between Biden and MBS https://t.co/yc3fkGK2xI
— Tyler Pager (@tylerpager) July 15, 2022
Whoever told Biden to take that strategy doesn’t seem to get that fist bumping the guy you deemed a pariah and a murderer doesn’t look any better than a handshake, particularly when you’re all smiling together.
When they sat down in the meeting that Biden had suggested they wouldn’t have, the U.S. press then began to pepper both Biden and the Saudis with questions about Khashoggi.
US press shouts questions at Biden, MBS, ministers during pool spray — @PeterAlexander shouts "Jamal Khashoggi, will you apologize to his family?" Another reporter shouted "Is Saudi Arabia still a pariah?"
Saudi officials looked uncomfortable.
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) July 15, 2022
Here’s what looks like the smirk.
Joe Biden's meeting with the Saudi royal family was interrupted with someone asked about Jamal Khashoggi. pic.twitter.com/Qh0LgdqAMv
— MRCTV (@mrctv) July 15, 2022
NBC’s Peter Alexander was one of those people. He asked if they were going to apologize to Jamal Khashoggi’s family. Alexander didn’t think MBS looked “uncomfortable” — indeed, he described MBS’ reaction as a “smirk” — before the reporter was grabbed by a Saudi aide.
“Jamal Khashoggi, will you apologize to his family?” I shouted to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the end of the press pool spray.
MBS had a slight smirk, before a Saudi aide grabbed my arm tightly. pic.twitter.com/htrSAvu2f7
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 15, 2022
“President Biden, is Saudi Arabia still a pariah?” pic.twitter.com/EEf9SjkDy1
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 15, 2022
Another reporter asked Biden if “Saudi Arabia was still a pariah.”
Then you can hear what sounds like the Biden communications people trying to push the press out of the room, with “Thank you, guys, THANK YOU” (meaning: Get out now).
It is not clear yet if Biden has raised the issue with MBS about Khashoggi. Biden had previously tried to evade the question about whether he would, suggesting that they knew already how he felt. Not exactly a great response on an issue you supposedly care about.
Pres. Biden would not commit to whether he would bring up Jamal Khashoggi when he meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: "My position on Khashoggi has been so clear, if anybody doesn't understand it…then they haven't been around for a while." https://t.co/ysTetYsUy7 pic.twitter.com/aodRtHcdTt
— ABC News (@ABC) July 14, 2022
But as we previously reported, the word is that even though he’s going to talk about “energy security,” he’s not going to walk away from the meeting with any new promises to pump more oil. So, we’ll have to see if that report gets confirmed, but it doesn’t look good for Biden’s chances. What was the point of this trip then? So far, it doesn’t look like much.