Mohammed bin Salman had something to say to the US President in response to the claims
The heir to the throne of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, hit back at Biden after the US president spoke out against the crown prince over assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Photo: Global Look Press
Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, hit back at Joe Biden after the US president spoke out against him over the 2018 assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a meeting between the two leaders on Friday.
At the meeting, Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, denied responsibility for the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to CNN. According to the source, Biden indicated that he disagreed with MBS's arguments based on US intelligence assessments.
In response to Biden's mention of Khashoggi, the Saudi prince cited the sexual and physical abuse of detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison by US military personnel and the May killing of Palestinian American journalist Shirin Abu Akla in the occupied West Bank as incidents that reflected badly on USA. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters on Saturday.
“The crown prince has responded quite clearly to President Biden's remarks about Khashoggi,” said Faisal bin Farhan. – These are problems, mistakes that happen in any country, including the USA. The Crown Prince pointed out that the United States made its own mistakes and took the necessary actions to bring those responsible to justice and correct those mistakes, just as the kingdom did.”
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir echoed the sentiment in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer shortly after the meeting ended.
“We investigated, punished and made sure it didn't happen again,” he said. Jubeir, answering a question about Khashoggi's murder. “That's what countries do. This is what the US did when the Abu Ghraib mistake was made.”
Abu Ghraib prison was the center for the detention of captured Iraqis by the US Army from the beginning of the US aggression in Iraq in 2003 until the prison was closed in 2006 due to mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US military personnel. Eleven American soldiers were convicted of crimes related to the scandal.
Shirin Abu Akle, a well-known Al Jazeera journalist named in MBS's rebuke to Biden, was mortally wounded during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. Abu Akle has become a household name in the Arab world as she has written for decades about the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Video footage obtained by CNN, corroborated by testimony from eight witnesses, a medical examiner and an explosives expert, suggests that Abu Akle, who was wearing a hard hat and a blue safety vest marked “Press” at the time of the murder, was shot dead as a result of targeted action by Israeli forces.
On Friday in the West Bank, Biden said the US was pushing for a “full and transparent account” of the journalist's murder. Biden called Abu Akle's death a “huge loss” as he stood next to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
But Palestinian officials and members of Abu Akle's family criticized the US investigation and urged the US to do more to involve Israel held accountable for the killing.
In a quickly prepared speech following Biden's bilateral talks with Mohammed bin Salman, the US president said he raised the issue of Khashoggi's murder early in the meeting.
“Regarding the killing of Khashoggi, I brought it up at the beginning of the meeting, making it clear that I thought about it at the time and what I think about it now,” Biden told reporters. – I was straightforward in discussing this. I have made my point crystal clear.”
According to Prince Faisal bin Farhan, there was also a broader discussion about values. “The Crown Prince pointed out to President Biden that respect for human rights is a core value for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia based on our Islamic beliefs and our Arab heritage. And what is absolutely important is that values are disseminated through dialogue. Trying to impose your values on others will not be effective. It will give you a negative reaction… The right way to try to put forward your values is to show the world that you stick to those values first, that you respect your own values.”
“At the end of the day, you can’t impose your values by force… The Crown Prince was very clear with President Biden and we have our own values and they will never be 100% in line with US values because we are very, very proud of our our own traditions, our own values, our own faith,” Faisal bin Farhan added.
But, according to many officials, the human rights debate appears to be overshadowed by broader talk about energy security, regional stability, trade and investment. Iran's nuclear ambitions and the war in Yemen are also seen as key elements in the discussions between Washington and Riyadh.
Senior Biden administration officials have had to defend the US president's decision to meet with MBS face-to-face despite fierce criticism, saying that it would be “apostasy if he didn't want to sit down and discuss human rights issues with foreign leaders around the world.”
As CNN notes, Biden came to Jeddah seeking a solution to one of his main political problems, the United United States – exorbitant fuel prices – as diplomacy with Saudi Arabia in the Middle East was seen as one of the few ways that prices could be lowered, hitting millions of Americans.
But White House officials predicted the president would not return to Washington with a clear increase in oil production. It is expected that oil production may increase in the coming months, which will be done in the context of the increase in production levels in the OPEC + cartel, outlined at its August meeting.