“The fist bump is a very natural gesture between the crown prince and President Biden,” says Saudi Arabian Media Ministry adviser Faheem al-Hamid of the globally televised move that some kinesics believe began as a pre-game salute to prevent blood between darts players. a handful of sharp arrows.
The kingdom’s own 2018 Ranked Invitational Darts Tournament, a small part of MBS’s lauded effort to bring fun, games and tourists to the venue, was organized shortly after Khashoggi’s murder. As the CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, Fahd Hamidaddin, puts it, “Saudi Arabia is the largest investment destination in the tourism sector.”
However, reports indicate that the darts competition resulted in an unusual number of “rejects”, which occur when a player’s dart hits a number they were not aiming for.
People hold banners showing murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Yasin Akgul/AFP via Getty
The target Biden was seeking in the sweltering heat of Jeddah was to convince the tribal monarch to offer unconditional support to Ukraine in the war against Russia and to immediately pump enough oil to alleviate rising gasoline prices and political damage before the midterm elections at home. .
As Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan puts it, Biden’s frigid three-hour bilateral meeting in an MBS-cooled conference room missed the mark.
“The United States remains our number one strategic partner, but that doesn’t mean we can’t develop strong partnerships with others around the world,” says Farhan. “OPEC Plus (the 23-nation oil cartel that includes Russia) has reacted to market conditions and will continue to assess.”
Even for what many critics complain about are the basic principles of the House of Saud, which oversaw 92 beheadings so far this year, there is something silly when a country with a $620 billion investment fund and an arsenal of weapons Sophisticated Americans find it necessary to ask the Russians what they think of the kingdom filling the global deficit created by Putin’s butchery of Ukraine.
President Joe Biden punches Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah.
Anadolu Agency via Getty
The Biden Administration’s scoldings are equally naive about Russian realpolitik, which is rooted in the principle that nothing should be left for an invaded people except their eyes to cry on.
“The fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman was worse than a handshake, it was disgraceful.” Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said in a statement. “He projected a level of intimacy and comfort that gives MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.”
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth twisted the knife. “The only way Biden could avoid legitimizing the Saudi Crown Prince despite the usual fist bump and meeting would be to publicly and thoroughly condemn MBS’s abysmal human rights record,” Roth said on Twitter. “Biden ultimately failed.”
He also declined to answer a question about the fist bump when he landed on the South Lawn of his White House home. “Why don’t you talk about something that matters?”
President Joe Biden is greeted by Governor of Mecca Province Prince Khaled al-Faisal and Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty
The reason, of course, is that MBS is also Saudi Arabia’s hipster in chief and really understands the importance of fist bumping. “The important thing is that Biden came, that he gave up,” said a Saudi official who was not authorized to speak officially.
Perhaps someone should remind Biden never to eat at a place called Mom’s, never play cards with a man named Doc, and never imagine that Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to end his war against Ukraine and Western powers. without strangling the former Soviet satrap and continuing. his threats against the 27 countries of the European Union.
Biden’s hogwash in Jeddah was his woeful inability to clothe realism with morality and get the Saudis and their critics to agree to the high-fashion diplomatic deal required to stop Russian aggression, end the war’s deadly cascading effect on the economy and stop the inflationary rise in the cost of energy and other raw materials that all polls suggest will cost his Democrats the 2022 midterm elections.
The crown prince disagrees. “Unrealistic energy policies will only lead to inflation,” is MBS’s calculation.
It’s a valid point, but the president and crown prince, now almost six months after Putin’s Ukrainian horror show, share an unwillingness to mention that the Russian leader’s belligerence is global and embellished with all the necessary economic indicators. to plunge both nations into a war. economy, the complete reorganization of a country’s commodity production and distribution capacity during a time of conflict. The kingdom’s fastest-growing wheat imports, for example, come from Poland and Russia, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
To be sure, Khashoggi’s murder was not a routine violation of human rights; furthermore, MBS’s order to kill sounds like a macabre reminder of Putin’s flurry of decrees to extraterritorially execute their political opponents. But if Biden is intent on convincing the Saudis to prepare for a fight, such distinctions are not lost on MBS. The Saudi heir with a law degree from King Saud University criticized Biden for the torture and murder of Muslim inmates at Abu Ghraib prison during the war in Iraq, as well as the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, the veteran correspondent. Palestinian-American from Al Jazeera. , who was allegedly killed by an Israeli sniper while covering a protest in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in May.
Still, Saudis and Americans throwing darts at each other has always been a blood sport between friends, with the nearly 80-year-old Biden telling his knockers that “America is not going anywhere.” The Saudis need not be reminded that MBS, 36, will not leave the game either.