Biden Caves To Saudis Rather Than Pump More Oil
Biden grants Saudi Prime Minister immunity from prosecution
No American president has ever condemned Saudi Arabia more harshly and consistently than President Joe Biden has. In a 2020 presidential debate, a moderator noted, “The CIA has concluded that the leader of Saudi Arabia directed the murder of US based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi,” and asked Biden if he would punish senior Saudi leaders. “Yes,” said Biden, without hesitation. “We are going to make them pay the price and make them the pariah that they are.” And, last month, in response to Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut oil production, Biden told CNN, “There’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done.”
But late last night, the Biden administration quietly gave Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman, immunity from a lawsuit for the murder of Khashoggi, who had criticized the crown prince's policies in Washington Post columns. Saudi agents in October 2018 killed and dismembered Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. "Jamal died again today," said Khashoggi's ex-fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, on Twitter. "We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from #USA. But again, money came first.”
The White House defended the decision as apolitical. “This is a legal determination made by the State Department under longstanding and well-established principles of customary international law," said a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council. "It has nothing to do with the merits of the case."
That’s nonsense. “Under Saudi law, it's very clear that, in fact, the king, in the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, retains all authority,” noted one expert. “This is not like the United Kingdom where the Prime Minister actually has powers as head of government. I don't think there would have been much of a stretch under international law to not grant immunity and just to stay silent on the matter.”