An imminent phone talk between US President Joe Biden and King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud raised speculations over the future relationships between the two countries.
The US president is expected to call his Saudi counterpart on Wednesday. This is while a major part of power in Saudi Arabia is transferred to the young prince Mohammad. The talk is reported to be occurring ahead of the release of a controversial report on the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the renowned Washington Post journalist.
According to Axios, the release of this report could lead to the entanglement of many of Saudi princes while no name was mentioned. The report, categorized as unclassified, has been provided by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
The Director of National Intelligence report is believed to contain evidences of the direct role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi’s murder in 2018. Bin Salman already strongly rejected allegations about his role but accepted responsibility as the de facto leader of the country.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington post columnist and stringent critic of Saudi policies in the Middle East, was murdered in Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018. Reports confirmed that his body was dismembered after the murder while his fiancée was expecting him outside the building.
Following CIA conclusion on the involvement of Bin Salman in the crime, US congress passed a legislation in December 2019, according to which the Director of National Intelligence was obliged to release the unclassified report within 30 days. The ruling also required the DNI to provide any evidence about the direct or indirect role of Saudi government authorities in “directing, ordering, or tampering of evidence”.
The report, nevertheless, was never released due to Donald Trump’s close ties with Saudi crown prince. Trump announced that the full publishing of the report would expose national intelligence office’s system and links. Trump’s patronage of Riyadh, his first foreign destination as US president, and his economic priorities has been considered the main reason.
The recalibration of US relationship with the Saudi monarchy, as promised by the new US president, may involve scrutinizing the past events as a light for future arrangements. Biden openly announced ending US participation in Saudi war against Yemen. Besides, US president’s team signaled starting the process of revitalizing nuclear deal with Iran.
Avril Haines, Biden’s Director of National Intelligence, confirmed that the explosive report will be released during a senate hearing, potentially this Thursday. Biden’s team is also involved with various other human rights violations inside Saudi Arabia.
Arbitrary arrests and travel bans are among the main oppressive forces imposed on Saudi citizens. Human rights watch has confirmed in various reports the use of these tools against the dissidents and their families. Bin Salman uses dissidents’ families as a bullying instruments by preventing them from leaving the country.
Saad Aljabri, former Saudi intelligence official, is one of the activists who fled to Canada. His children, Sarah and Omar, both in their twenties were victims of Saudi monarchy’s procedure to put pressure on their father. From travel ban to secret trial and detention in unknown locations, Sarah and Omar are victims of a game they never played a part in.
Travel ban is not a new trend in Saudi Arabia, but since Bin Salman took the power, the practice has been much more frequently used against dissident, their family members and even members of Saudi monarchy posing threat on his ruling.
Biden’s phone call with king Salman, and not Prince Bin Salman, might be considered a signal of change in US approach towards Saudi destabilizing movements in the region and oppressive behavior inside. The release of Khashoggi murder’s report might be the first step.