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Biden, buffeted by a likely looming recession and skyrocketing fuel prices, is in Jeddah to try to persuade the Kingdom to increase oil production. But Biden’s past condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and disdain for fossil fuels could leave him little leverage in a sitdown with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to Prince Turki Al-Faisal.
“As an example, on energy issues, he came in with a policy to stop completely fossil fuel usage not only in the United States, but worldwide, and now he is finding himself having to rely on fossil fuels as a means of meeting the energy shortage that has come about, not only because of the Ukraine war but also because of U.S. policy itself that shut down pipelines and stopped issuing … discovery of oil on U.S. soil,” the prince, who was head of the Kingdom’s intelligence service from 1979 to 2001, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.
American officials have directed blame for the grisly 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the crown prince. Khashoggi, a harsh critic of the Kingdom’s rulers, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, killed, and cut up with a bone saw, according to reports. Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” while he was campaigning for president but now finds himself going hat in hand.
“So, what I would say is, any visitor and not just the American president who has complaints about Saudi issues like human rights and so on, please get off your high horse,” Prince Turki said.
Biden also hopes to thaw perennially strained relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority while on the trip, and on Friday pledged $100 million to support Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem. And Israel wants a U.S. commitment to getting tough on Tehran if it continues to pursue nuclear weapons.
It all comes as Biden’s approval rating back home has hit historic lows, raising questions about whether he has the political muscle to drive an ambitious foreign policy agenda.
“The deck is stacked against him,” Prince Turki said.