Will Saudi Arabia now be milked in a different way by US?
US President-elect Joe Biden had pledged in his election campaign last year to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the killing of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and called for an end to US support for the Saudi war against Yemen.
During one of the Democratic Party presidential debates in November, 2019, Biden said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) ordered the assassination of Khashoggi and said he would not sell weapons to Saudi Arabia if he was elected president.
Khashoggi moved to the US in 2017 and began writing for The Washington Post later that year. He was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 by agents of the Saudi government.
“I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them,” Biden said in the debate. “We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.”
Biden also said there is “very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia,” and, in reference to the war in Yemen, Biden said he would end “end the sale of material to the Saudis where they’re going in and murdering children and murdering innocent people.”
Bin Salam, also known as MBS, is the son of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
MBS had denied ordering Khashoggi’s killing, but in 2019 he acknowledged some personal accountability by saying that it happened on his watch. Riyadh has jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years in the case.
Outgoing US President Donald Trump has "personal" ties with bin Salman. Trump traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2017 in his first official foreign visit, signing a $110-billion arms deal with the kingdom.
Trump had refused to admonish the Saudis over Khashoggi’s grisly murder.
Before his presidency, Trump had described Saudi Arabia as "a milk cow" which would be slaughtered when its milk runs out.
The US arms support to Riyadh, an update on its already lavish supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia, came although the kingdom was at the height of a war bin Salam had orchestrated against Yemen.
The United Nations has said the military aggression is responsible for turning the already impoverished country into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
After remaining silent for several days, King Salman and his son finally congratulated Biden on Sunday for winning the US election.