U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir walk across the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland, on September 3, 2015, as they prepared under rainy skies to welcome King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia upon his arrival to visit President Barack Obama. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
A few notes on local coverage of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia – hoping to update this site more regularly starting this autumn so bear with me.
Al-Riyadh’s editorial offered a fairly straightforward writeup of Biden’s Washington Post op-ed and the forthcoming visit – not overly praiseful of U.S. policy but not particularly critical either. Other Saudi or Saudi-owned papers carried translations of the op-ed as well.
Abdelrahman al-Rashed, arguing that Democrats are not necessarily enemies of the Kingdom, albeit with the “shock of the Ukraine war bringing the White House back to its senses.”
Biden, who has more than two years remaining in his presidency (not a short amount of time) will be realistic and positive in his relationship, despite the forces that want to push him in a direction hostile to the Kingdom. In the article he wrote in the Washington Post, an unusual step, he explains his vision of the relationship with the Kingdom. He provides a good indication that the crisis of relations is behind us, as we await what happens in the bilateral meeting between him and the Saudi leadership. It is also expected that Biden will end negative attitudes and decisions against the kingdom during Trump’s term and early in his [Biden’s] presidency, in the field of military cooperation in the Yemen war, targeting Saudi individuals with various lists, and attempts to prosecute Saudi sovereign institutions in U.S. and other courts. These actions do not agree with the existence of a strong relationship between the two countries. Aawsat, 7.12.2022
Tariq al-Homayed on Biden’s WaPo op-ed (albeit as other Aawsat commentators continue to rail against “Obama-ism”):
The article was written for a specific trend in the United States-the Left-and not for all Americans, not even for the Saudis, or the international community. Well, is this a bad thing? The answer is also no – rather, it is a good article. I say this because it was written by someone who had previously pledged to renounce Saudi Arabia. Now he justifies the reasons for his visits, and how Saudi Arabia is a strategic country and has been a strategic ally of the United States for nearly eighty years, and he wrote in the newspaper the most hostile to Riyadh… The bottom line is that President Biden is visiting Saudi Arabia because it is a pivotal, pioneering country and a model for the reform and stability in the region, just as Riyadh is a model of political rationality. Saudi Arabia is not a country of empty slogans, but of deeds. Simply because it is Saudi Arabia. Aawsat, 7.13.2022
Mohammed Sa’id in Okaz, following an extended story about the participation of some men from the Arabian peninsula in the U.S. Civil War:
The Saudi-American relations have gone through golden periods and others full of difficult challenges, but the [fundamental link] was never broken between the two countries. This is because the Saudis build and not destroy, and because neglecting such a relationship between the most powerful country in the world and Saudi Arabia, the gateway to Arabs and Muslims and the largest provider of energy, is a huge loss not only for the two parties, but for the whole world. U.S. President John [sp.] Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes at a difficult period in the history of the world, and at the time of a conflict that resulted from the interactions of four superpowers (America, Russia, China and the European Union) that caught fire in Ukraine. The fire may spread to other places if it is not remedied. These interactions between the great powers will shape the new world over the next century and reveal who will be the victors and who will be the losers, and it is wonderful to be with the victors. Okaz, 7.13.2022
In terms of Twitter, a brief and certainly not comprehensive look:
His Highness the Crown Prince’s response to President Biden on human rights was strong and exceptional. When the Khashoggi case was raised, the response was: What about the Abu Ghraib detention center and what did America offer to the American citizen, Sherine Abu Aqleh! His Highness demonstrated to the world the double standards in human rights issues and the lack of integrity of human rights organizations.
رد سمو ولي العهد على الرئيس بايدن في ما يخص حقوق الانسان كان قوي وفريد من نوعه. حينما تم طرح قضية خاشقجي كان الرد هو ماذا عن معتقل أبو غريب وماذا قدمت أمريكا للمواطنة الأمريكية شيرين أبوعاقلة ! أثبت سموه للعالم ازدواجية المعايير في ملف حقوق الانسان وعدم نزاهة الهيئات الحقوقية. pic.twitter.com/HhR4a2ySdp — Turki Alqahtani (@TurkiiSR) July 16, 2022
There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia will not sacrifice eighty years of strategic relationship with the United States, with convulsive emotional reactions to Biden’s previous election statements, but this does not mean complete dependence on America, as circumstances have changed, and therefore the conditions of this relationship must change accordingly.
لا شك في أن السعودية لن تضحي بثمانين عاما من العلاقة الاستراتيجية مع الولايات المتحدة، بردات فعل وجدانية متشنجة تجاه تصريحات انتخابية سابقة لبايدن، ولكن ذلك لا يعني الارتهان الكامل لأميركا، فالظروف تغيرت، وبالتالي فإن شروط هذه العلاقة يجب أن تتغير وفقا لذلك.. — تركي الحمد T. Hamad (@TurkiHAlhamad1) July 15, 2022
There is no doubt that President Joe Biden has finally realized that the catastrophic moment in Saudi-American relations that came with the arrival of President Obama and his administration to the presidency, who reduced the Middle East to Iran only and despised the rest (except for Israel) and especially Saudi Arabia. And now he is trying to reform the consequences of that administration’s mistakes.
لا شك في أن الرئيس جو بايدن أدرك أخيرا أن اللحظة الكارثية في العلاقات السعودية الأميركية،جاءت مع مجيء الرئيس أوباما وادارته إلى سدة الرئاسة،الذي اختصر الشرق الأوسط في إيران فقط وازدرى الباقي،فيما عدا إسرائيل،وخاصة السعودية..وها هو اليوم يحاول إصلاح تداعيات أخطاء تلك الإدارة.. — تركي الحمد T. Hamad (@TurkiHAlhamad1) July 16, 2022
You’re right about one thing, today’s fist bump is worth a thousand words. Firstly, it proves that economic and security interests are far more important than outlandish “principles”… Secondly, it highlights the significance of respecting the values of other nations 🇸🇦 pic.twitter.com/sx0namRBfi — سعود بن سلمان الدوسري (@999saudsalman) July 16, 2022
This is Saudi Arabia’s narrative, from a responsible source as published by Al Arabiya, and not as Biden said briefly… trying to say what he wants his party and masses to hear. Our sovereignty is above all considerations. [Full text reporting Crown Prince’s response to Biden bringing up Khashoggi reads as follows, all based on “an official Saudi source” to Al-Arabiya]: President Biden quickly touched on the issue of Jamal Khashoggi The Crown Prince mentioned that Washington made a number of mistakes, such as the Abu Ghraib The Crown Prince referred to the killing of the American journalist Shereen Abu Aqleh The Crown Prince questioned what America and the world had done regarding the killing of Abu Aqleh The Crown Prince affirmed that all countries have values that they agree on and others they disagree about.… that the attempt to force values has counterproductive results… that every country has different values that must be respected… that we have to coexist with each other despite differences…
هذه رواية السعودية، من مصدر مسؤول كما نشرت العربية، وليس كما قال بايدن بشكل مقتضب.. محاولا أن يقول ما يريد أن يسمعه حزبه وجماهيره. سيادتنا فوق كل اعتبار🇸🇦🇸🇦🇸🇦 pic.twitter.com/lrn2f0ep16 — سلمان الدوسري (@SalmanAldosary) July 15, 2022