Why Is Biden Letting MBS Get Away With Murder?

Why Is Biden Letting MBS Get Away With Murder?
Then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, and then-Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, now King Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 27, 2011 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week.

He called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” during the presidential campaign and promised to “reassess” America’s ties with the kingdom once in office. But when that time came—with the public release last week of a U.S. intelligence report concluding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had directly ordered the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018—President Joe Biden balked. Instead of making “sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil,” as Biden’s campaign had pledged last year, his administration determined that the crown prince was “simply too important to American interests to punish,” as David Sanger reported in The New York Times.

The measures Biden took instead—sanctioning a former Saudi intelligence official and the covert Rapid Intervention Force that the crown prince formed to hunt down Saudi dissidents, including Khashoggi—are supposed to be proof that Biden is “recalibrating” U.S. ties with Riyadh. That is now the operative word from the White House, replacing “reassess.” The obvious question, though, is what “recalibrating” with a murderer would actually entail.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.