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Saudi Prince Downgrades Team Biden To "Recalibrate" Ties


According to a familiar person, instead of communicating exclusively with Biden, the most fitting US equivalent of the crown prince is Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Although the official position of Prince Salman is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, as heir to the throne his father, 85, has held since 2015, he has a wide variety of responsibilities.


The US declaration is the latest indication of how the Biden administration is reassessing the strong relations formed during the Trump administration between Washington and Riyadh. Former President Donald Trump made Saudi Arabia the centerpiece of his Middle East policy, taking his first trip abroad as president to Riyadh in a break from tradition.


That is all now being trimmed down. The US placed a stop on some main arms sales to the kingdom in Biden's first few days and declared new attempts to bring the Saudi-led war in Yemen to an end. Biden has also called on Saudi Arabia to strengthen its human rights record.


This means that, according to Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former Mideast official at the State Department, US-Saudi relations will revert to "more structured, routine channels,"


This is an MBS slapdown, which the administration finds to be careless and brutal, "This is a slapdown of MBS, who the administration views as reckless and ruthless," "The king's health is not great, but it's less about the king than it is about making it clear that MBS is no longer the main point of contact."


The US-Saudi alliance isn't broken completely. Biden administration officials have said they intend to help the Saudis adequately protect themselves from Iranian violence, and it is expected that the U.S. will cooperate closely with the authorities of the kingdom to help put the Saudi-led conflict in neighboring Yemen to an end.


While he is the de facto ruler of the country, after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, the crown prince became a pariah in most of official Washington. Senior Saudi officials who reported directly to the crown prince in the killing were involved in a United Nations-led probe, an allegation denied by the officials of the country.


Despite these results, after the assassination, Trump and his administration, particularly son-in-law Jared Kushner, remained close to Prince Mohammed and avoided blaming him for the death of Khashoggi.

Biden's national intelligence chief, Avril Haines, has promised to issue an unclassified CIA investigation on the killing of Khashoggi that is expected to shame the crown prince and further underline the fraying relations.


Martin Indyk, a respected Council on Foreign Relations fellow and a former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, said that re-establishing the alliance "meant to send a signal that President Biden wants certain things from the crown prince, such as an end to the war in Yemen and a different approach to dissent at home."


"will really want to see the crown prince respond to those things sooner rather than later, "would really want to see the Crown Prince respond to these things sooner rather than later. "Until MBS does that, I think Biden will be dealing with the king."


A White House official, who requested not to be mentioned addressing the move, said the statement by Psaki merely signaled a return to the long-standing diplomatic process.


Saudi Arabia this month released influential Saudi women's rights protester Loujain Al-Hathloul after nearly three years in prison in what may have been an attempt to satisfy the Biden administration.


In response to a question about the larger Mideast outreach of the administration, Psaki said that Biden plans to speak "soon." to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli government officials have publicly protested that Biden did not call the leader of the country earlier in his presidency.





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