From US Partner To Pariah And Back: Saudi Prince Salman’s Journey

From American partner to pariah and back: the journey of the Saudi prince Salman

JOunralist Jamal Kashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.


Once hailed as a reformer, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became a global pariah in 2018 after the horrific murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Four years later, he is being rehabilitated, with Greece and France welcoming him this week on his first visit to the West since the Khashoggi affair, less than two weeks after he received a conciliatory visit — and a punch — from US President Joe Biden.

Here’s a rundown of the key events since he became the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

Crown Prince at 31

On June 21, 2017, King Salman names his then 31-year-old son Mohammed as crown prince, capping the meteoric rise of the ambitious defense minister.

It comes amid a major fallout with Qatar, which accuses Riyadh of supporting terrorism and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran.

royal purge

In November 2017, some 380 royals, senior officials and business magnates were arrested in a dramatic purge presented as an anti-corruption campaign.

Many are being held for weeks at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Most are released after major financial settlements have been agreed.

Women are allowed to drive

In September 2017, the monarchy will end the world’s only ban on female drivers by announcing that they will be allowed to take the wheel from June 2018.

Cinemas will also be reopened, music concerts will be organized with mixed audiences and women will be allowed to enter sports stadiums.

The enthusiasm sparked by the announcements has been dampened somewhat by the repression of women activists who had campaigned for the right to drive.

Lebanon crisis

In November 2017, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address from Riyadh, citing Iran’s “hold” on his country.

Saudi Arabia is accused of forcing its hand to try to weaken the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, which shares power in Lebanon.

After France intervenes, Hariri returns to Lebanon and resigns.

war in yemen

Riyadh joins the 2015 war in Yemen at the head of an Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized government against Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The Saudi-led bombing campaign is escalating the conflict and turning it into a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran, sparking the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Lunch with the Queen

In March 2018, the Prince will embark on his first overseas tour as an heir, visiting Egypt and Britain, where he will have lunch with Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince Mohammed then spends more than two weeks in the United States, meeting President Donald Trump and visiting tech leaders in Silicon Valley. He also goes to France and Spain.

murder of Khashoggi

On October 2, 2018, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is murdered and dismembered at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, sparking global outrage.

Prince Mohammed denies ordering the murder. The government blames rogue security officials.

A Saudi court sentences five people to death for the murder, but they later receive prison terms.

The affair turns the Crown Prince into a pariah in the West, with a UN reporter and the CIA both linking him to the murder.

Conversations with Iran

In April 2021, Prince Mohammed surprises by declaring that he wants to have “good relations” with Iran. Over the following year, the two arch-enemies held five rounds of talks in Iraq, sparking speculation that they might resume diplomatic relations.

ceasefire in Yemen

Yemeni Huthi rebels and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition agree to a two-month truce in April 2022, which they extend in June.

As Riyadh searches for a way to end the war, Saudi Arabia-backed Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi announces he will hand over power to a new council that will conduct peace talks with the Huthis.

Paria no more

On July 15, US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia on a mission to attempt to increase global oil supplies. He greets the crown prince with a punch and seals the Saudi leader’s return to the international fold.

The statue has been sharply criticized by human rights groups, with Khashoggi’s grieving fiancée accusing Biden of having blood on his hands.

On Wednesday, Prince Mohammed arrived in Paris from Greece for his first trip to Europe since Khashoggi’s death. He will meet President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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