Add one more twist to the story of what went on in Joe Biden’s meeting in Saudi Arabia.
According to Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, contacted Heinrich’s Fox colleague Alex Hogan. He pointedly said that he “did not hear” Joe Biden tell MBS he believed he was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. That’s a not too subtle way of saying Biden didn’t say it.
🚨NEW: After POTUS departed Saudi Arabia on AF1, Saudi FM Adel al-Jubeir called my colleague @AlexHoganTV back for a 2nd interview – even though Fox interviewed him yday.
He pointedly claimed he “did not hear” Biden tell MBS he believed he was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) July 16, 2022
They also specifically shot down some of the other things that Biden and others were claiming about the meeting.
1. Biden had described the lifting of restrictions on flights from Israel as a further step toward normalization. The Saudis said that the lifting of restrictions was no indication that there would be any future cooperation.
2. Biden said discussions on oil were productive, that they shared the US urgency in increasing supply, and implied there would be announcements of developments in the coming weeks. But that isn’t what the Saudis are saying.
Saudi leaders have repeatedly said they will not increase the kingdom’s oil production without the agreement of its partners in OPEC+, which next meets on Aug. 3.
Saudi Arabia is already close to its production capacity, and MBS outlined its plans to increase capacity to 13 million barrels per day. But that plan was already on the table before Biden got there and will take until 2027 to be able to increase to that capacity, according to Oil Price. What MBS said on Saturday about increasing capacity seems to have been wrongly interpreted by some as something more immediate. But it wasn’t immediate, and it was not a product of the meeting with Biden.
They said that there was no discussion of oil production at the subsequent GCC Summit with the Gulf States, and that they would do what was necessary to maintain balance in the market.
3. Biden did at least mention Khashoggi’s name, according to this account, and in response, MBS supposedly retorted with what Biden was doing about the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during fire between the Israeli IDF and Palestinians. MBS asked Biden what he was doing to get justice for her. Biden didn’t mention that in his presser.
$. The Saudi FM also raised prisoner abuse at Abu Graib to Fox, and said no one would think that George W. Bush ordered that.
So, I’m not sure what Biden thought he got out of this meeting, with the Saudis just shooting down everything he claimed and even going to the media to dispute it. Not only didn’t he seem to gain anything, but he may also have just lost ground. So, it’s “who do you believe?” time: The Saudis or Biden–and it’s sad that we even have to doubt Biden. But given his history, we do.