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Biden's Trip to Saudi Arabia Viewed as a Win for the Saudis | GZERO World

Saudi Arabia proved it's still the key player in the Gulf

Joe Biden's pledges to prevent Iran from getting the bomb and to defend Saudi Arabia from an attack were "music to Saudi Arabia's ears," Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University and confidante of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. Biden's controversial trip was largely viewed as a big win for the Saudis, while the US didn't get much out of the discussions because Biden's team didn't do their homework, says Haykel.

The Saudis "were able to show that they have tremendous convening power" by bringing in all the Gulf leaders, thus demonstrating that Riyadh is the most important player there — and the partner you need for political and energy stability.

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Blowback on MBS From Khashoggi Murder Saved Many Other Journalists, Says Expert | GZERO World

Blowback on MBS from Khashoggi murder saved many other journalists, says expert

US-Saudi relations were strained after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the CIA says was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS. And he knows it was a risky move.

"I don't think that they will ever do anything like that again," says Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University and MBS insider.

Still, he tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, the regime will continue to be very repressive and authoritarian, doing things like mass executions of convicted terrorists from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State but also dissident Shiites.

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Ian Explains: From Biden’s Pariah to Core Partner | US Saudi Visit a Win for MBS | GZERO World

From Biden’s pariah to core partner: US Saudi visit a win for MBS

In October 2018, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul. The CIA says de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS, gave the order.

That led US President Joe Biden to ghost MBS, and even label him a "pariah."

But after Biden's recent Middle East trip, the Saudi crown prince now looks less like a pariah and more like a partner, Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.

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Saudi Arabia’s Repressive Power Politics | Why Biden Needs MBS | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Saudi Arabia’s repressive power politics

US President Joe Biden famously said he would treat Saudi Arabia as a "pariah" for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But with oil prices near record highs and Iran seen as a growing menace, he felt he had no choice but to go there to revive the US-Saudi relationship.

Biden didn't get much out of his trip, which Princeton University professor and MBS confidante Bernard Haykel says was a "big win" for the Saudis and the crown prince himself. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks to Haykel, a Saudi expert, who discusses how MBS consolidated power, why the targeting of other journalists is unlikely, the kingdom's strategic value to the US, MBS's strategy to modernize his country, and the prospects for future warmer ties with Israel.

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Human Rights in Saudi Arabia Under MBS | GZERO World

Activist Loujain al-Hathloul is far from free in MBS's reformed Saudi Arabia

In 2014, Loujain al Hathloul did the unthinkable: attempt to drive into Saudi Arabia, the last country in the world with a driving ban for women.

That changed four years later after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS, removed the restriction on women, she explains on GZERO World.

But just six weeks before the ban was lifted there, she was arrested in the UAE and flown to Riyadh against her will. Loujain later spent more than 1,000 days behind bars for her activism defending women's rights.

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Biden's Trip to Saudi Arabia is About More Than Pumping Oil | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia is about more than pumping oil

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective on US politics:

What is President Biden hoping to achieve by visiting Saudi Arabia?

This week the White House announced that President Joe Biden would make a visit to the Middle East. The most important part of the trip will be a stop in Saudi Arabia and a visit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The President came into office saying he wanted to make the Saudis pariahs for their history of human rights abuses, including the kingdom's involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and an ongoing war in Yemen that has resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties. But unfortunately for President Biden, his Middle East strategy has followed the Mike Tyson maxim that everyone has a plan until they're punched in the mouth.

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GZERO Media

Will Biden say sorry to MBS?

Bizarre marriages of convenience dominate the geopolitical landscape: Russia and China; Iran and Venezuela; Israel and Turkey. The list goes on.

When President Biden came into office, he said he wouldn’t give a “blank check” to the world’s autocrats, including those associated with longtime US allies.

As part of his human-rights focused foreign policy, Biden rejected any dialogue with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the 36-year-old de facto Saudi leader who’s credited with big reforms like allowing Saudi women to drive. He’s also overseen acts of incredible brutality, including the murder of dissident-journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the scorched-earth military campaign in Yemen.

But two years in and ample crises later, Biden is ready to sit down for a face-to-face with MBS next month in Riyadh. Why the massive about-face?

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A vigil is held at the Saudi embassy in Washington for journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

What We're Watching: Saudis brace for Khashoggi report, Sri Lanka blasts UN, political unrest in Niger

US to release Khashoggi report: The Biden administration's intel chief is expected to release on Thursday a report on the murder of Saudi dissident journalist — and US resident — Jamal Khashoggi. In line with previously reported findings, the assessment will say that Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman was involved in the plot to kill and dismember Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Aside from a sprinkling of new details, we don't expect much from the report itself, but we are keen to see how it shapes US-Saudi relations under Joe Biden, who has promised to take a harder line with Riyadh over human rights and security issues than his predecessor did. Part of that new approach is that the US president will no longer speak directly to the Crown Prince himself as Trump did — from now on, only his dad, King Salman, gets calls from the White House.

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