After months of downgrading Saudi’s Mohammad Bin Salman, the Biden administration is now praising the young prince for extending the Yemen truce.
It was on this Friday that in a 360% shift of rhetoric, the White House spoke of Saudi’s young prince Mohammad Bin Salman with a tone of praise and complementation.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that both Bin Salman and Saudi King Salman deserved credit for their pivotal roles in extending the truce in Yemen.
“This truce would not be possible without the cooperative diplomacy from across the region. We specifically recognize the leadership of King Salman and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia in helping consolidate the truce,” Jean-Pierre said, adding also that “we’re going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”
This past Thursday, the parties involved in the Yemen war agreed to extend the U.N.-sponsored truce for another two months.
The first truce agreement was announced two months ago to be valid for two months, that is, until the end of April. The new agreement is under the same terms as the original deal that expired on Thursday.
The beautiful language that the White House used in addressing Prince Bin Salman was no less than a shocking surprise.
This is mostly because only two days before Jean-Pierre’s words, the White House had said Biden still felt bin Salman was a “pariah” for what U.S. intelligence says was his role in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey back in 2018.
Back then, Khashoggi was brutally murdered and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. According to the CIA’s recent findings, the young crown prince was behind the ordering of the murder.
This has ere since affected the image of Bin Salman both in and outside the Kingdom. The Saudi government, however, has denied any involvement of the young prince in the tragedy. Also last year in February, the White House noted that President Biden will only deal with his counterpart King Salman, not his son.
In response to a question about whether Biden will speak to the crown prince, then-press secretary Jen Psaki said that “the president’s counterpart is King Salman.”
Time to change policy too
But Washington’s soft language towards the Kingdom now seems to be just the beginning of the story; According to sources familiar with the process, President Biden is planning to have a trip to Saudi Arabia in conjunction with a trip to Europe and Israel in late June.
The visit is aimed at reinforcing ties with Riyadh at a time when Biden is trying to find ways to lower gasoline prices in the United States.
Jean-Pierre didn’t confirm the Biden trip is planned but said that “what the president is focused on first and foremost is how his engagements with foreign leaders advance American interests. That’s as true with Saudi Arabia as anywhere else.”
It was back in February that the Kingdom rejected Biden’s demand from the OPEC countries to increase the oil production to break the prices.
All in all, extending the truce between Yemen and the Saudi-led coalition is a significant step in years toward reviving hopes for ending the Yemen war. But what is also significant is that this time, the Biden administration also has come to the scene to use the opportunity to pursue a policy of rapprochement with Saudi Arabia.
What the US president has in mind in shifting rhetoric and policy of the US with the Kingdom, though, is a matter of time to be revealed.