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Annie Gugliotta

World leaders: Thanks for nothing!

This Thursday, many of our readers — particularly in the US — will celebrate Thanksgiving.

At worst, it’s a day to argue with your relatives about super-chill topics like climate change, racism, abortion, or cancel culture (here’s a useful guide for that.)

But at best, it’s an opportunity to take a moment, look around, and recognize the things you’re grateful for in this life.

And it’s not just you — our world leaders have much to be thankful for as well. Here, then, is a partial list of global gratitude:

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Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring Saudi Arabia's second goal against Argentina.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Saudi shocker is a victory for all Arabs — and a PR coup for MBS

Saudi Arabia's stunning victory over Argentina on Tuesday was one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history. The lowly Saudis defeated the mighty Argentines, overcoming odds so great that if you'd bet $100 on the Saudis, you'd have walked out with more than $2,200 in beer money. (Oops, you can't actually buy any beer at Qatar 2022.)

More importantly, it made the kingdom proud — and sent long-awaited ripples of soccer joy throughout the Arab world. Why?

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immune from US civil case, US State Dept. says.

Balkis Press/ABACA via Reuters Connect

US: MBS immune from Khashoggi lawsuit

The fiancée of murdered journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi has been waiting four years for justice after he was killed at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul — a murder US intelligence says was likely ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Joe Biden during a summit in Jeddah.

Balkis Press/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Laws, votes & guns: America’s options to respond to Saudi oil cuts

Following the largest cut in oil production — 2 million barrels per day — since the beginning of the pandemic by the Saudi-led OPEC+ oil cartel (which includes Russia), the Biden administration finds itself on a war footing about how to deal with Riyadh.

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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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Oil, Entitlement, & How MBS is Changing Saudi Arabia | GZERO World

Oil, entitlement, & how MBS is changing Saudi Arabia

What is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman really doing to modernize Saudi Arabia? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer asks Princeton University's Bernard Hayel.

MBS, as he's known in the West, is "basically banking on the bulk of the population that's under 30, [who think] he's a rock star because of the things he's doing."

Meanwhile, "anyone over 40 hates him because he's taking away entitlements" and changing the modus operandi of the country.

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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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How MBS Consolidated Power in Saudi Arabia | US Alignment on Core Strategic Interests | GZERO World

How MBS consolidated power in Saudi Arabia

What sets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, better known as MBS, apart from other autocrats who've risen to power in recent years?

He's consolidated power by "emasculating" his own family, including America's pick to succeed his dad, says Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University and MBS confidante.

The effort "was extremely brutal and messy at times," he tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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