UPDATED 1:24 PM PT – Wednesday, June 15, 2022
President Joe Biden is causing yet another stir in Washington, D.C. with his latest foreign policy decision. On Tuesday, the White House announced Biden will be visiting Saudi Arabia in June, where he will reportedly meet with crowned Prince Mohammed bin Salman. GOP critics warn this is just another attempt to beg the Saudi government to produce more oil as the US faces a growing energy crisis.
Previously, the Crown Prince refused to take Biden’s calls back in March and later humiliated his national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, when he tried to meet with Saudi officials to discuss oil exports. Biden even sent an arms package to the Saudi government, only to be snubbed in return. House Republicans claim the latest visit is a “Hail Mary” pass to simmer the skyrocketing gas prices.
Why is Biden traveling 6500+ miles to discuss increasing oil production with the Saudis?
He should be meeting with American producers in Texas, Oklahoma, and more states at home.
We have the energy here!
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) June 14, 2022
Even Biden ally Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) expressed concern with Biden’s trip. While admitting the Biden administration is struggling to handle the energy crisis, Durbin couldn’t come around to agree that meeting with bin Salman is the right way to go. He cited the Saudi government’s numerous human rights abuses, including the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The Saudi Arabia record, particularly when it comes to Khashoggi, is an outrage,” Durbin stated. “It is the type of thing that clearly it was a designed murder and an effort to dispose of the corpse in a way that it could never be discovered. We now know what happened, at least to a large extent, and to say that that is just the ordinary course of business for a government is outrageous. So, I have mixed feelings on this and if the President called me, I would say, ‘Mr. President, you can’t trust these people.’”
However, Biden’s State Department defended cozying up to the Saudi royal family. Spokesperson Ned Price stressed there are copious issues plaguing the Middle East that needs to be addressed, including Iran’s violent attacks in the region.
Price also touted the Biden administration’s response to the Khashoggi killing, adding Biden remains committed to punishing those responsible for the attack. However, he failed to mention how meeting with the US President is holding bin Salman’s feet to the fire even as the Intelligence Community suggested the Saudi Crown Prince orchestrated the hit.
In the meantime, Biden is set to meet with Saudi officials in mid-July at the end of a Middle East trip, where he will also meet with officials from the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority.