President Biden draws the line
It feels like old times. The American President of whatever Party is once again taking a stand against an evil regime. No matter how toxic things got in the past, Democrats were always ready to enter an alliance with rogues (as opposed to a rogues’ alliance) with Republicans against evil nations.
It remains to be shown if Republicans will be part of President Joe Biden’s total reset of relations with Saudi Arabia and its Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, also known as “MBS.” Since we’re in charge now it no longer matters. Republicans can either get on board or get out of the water. Either way MBS has some answering to do.
To be sure, since coming to power in 2017, MBS has made long overdue changes to Saudi Arabia, including lifting the ban on women driving, permitting public entertainment and the mixing of the sexes, while limiting the power of the more fanatical religious clerics.
But MBS made these changes, it seems, in an effort to burnish the country’s justly heinous image of backward social oppression and ingratiate himself with Donald Trump. Since Trump was principally in the hospitality business (and was occasionally the president of the United States) any improvements that made the country more attractive to holiday makers was a good thing, in Trump’s venal and corrupt eyes.
The problem was with that other thing, freedom of expression, particularly the freedom of expression of members of the press. With the print media MBS has become an oppressive tyrant, culminating in his ordering the murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Lucky for MBS dismembering journalists was exactly the kind of thing Donald Trump fantasized about every day. So MBS got no pushback from Trump for Khashoggi.
Well those days are over. Bad guys like MBS and Putin and Kim and Bolsonaro and Erdoğan and Duterte can start trembling. There’s a new Sheriff in town, and he doesn’t like black hats. Also, new details of the Khashoggi murder may soon be declassified by the CIA.
That’s right, they now have to answer to President Joe Biden. Please indulge me, brothers and sisters. The first sentence of this paragraph was wholly unnecessary. I wrote it because I love writing “President Joe Biden.” See, I did it again. I just can’t help myself.
So President Joe Biden has ordered a freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He has signalled he will terminate US military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. After just a little over one week into his term, the President has suspended billions of dollars worth of arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
It’s time Americans once again find out who their friends really are and act accordingly. This is yet another advantage to waking up from the long national nightmare that was Donald Trump and his pirate ship regime. We have many advantages to savour and enjoy in the years to come. And we have President Joe Biden to thank. President Joe Biden is making America great again. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.