Saudi Arabia: US President faces difficult mission

US President Joe Biden's decision to pay a visit to Saudi Arabia during his trip Middle East trip is fuelling controversy. After the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which according to intelligence reports was authorised by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Biden adopted a harsh tone vis-à-vis Riyadh. Is the visit proof of double standards or necessary diplomacy?

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Libération (FR) /

A diplomatic balancing act

Biden must find appropriate gestures on his Middle East trip, Libération says:

“Biden is walking a diplomatic tightrope caught between Jerusalem and Riyadh while trying to avoid the many pitfalls of the complex Middle East. Not overdo it on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by inviting to Washington the family of the American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed on the sidelines of an Israeli raid in Jenin, without having designated the Israeli army as responsible for her death. Finding a symbolic gesture in memory of Jamal Khashoggi on his arrival in Riyadh this Friday will be far more complicated, but just as important.”

Postimees (EE) /

The world is not perfect

Postimees sees the meeting as a bitter compromise:

“Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world where all decisions can be moral or the choice between good and evil is easy. After Russia's attack on Ukraine, it is becoming increasingly clear that in politics you have to choose the most appropriate path between many bad options because good ones are almost non-existent. Above all, one must rein in the greatest evil. Therefore, the US, as the leading state of the West, has a duty to mobilise a coalition against Putin's criminal regime and to help if there are major setbacks for the economy.”

Financial Times (GB) /

The wrong message

Biden's visit to the Saudi crown prince is unnecessary and counterproductive, warns Financial Times:

“The White House may believe that cosying up to Mohammed bin Salman MBS is necessary given the restrictions on Russian oil, but we cannot show our revulsion for Vladimir Putin's atrocities by rewarding those of the crown prince. There are better and more environmentally-sustainable ways to deal with the energy crisis than empowering such regimes. There is also a risk this visit will send the message that Saudi rulers can continue to act with impunity.”

Il Manifesto (IT) /

Too much realpolitik

We are swallowing a hefty helping of realpolitik, Il Manifesto fumes:

“The war in Ukraine and the crisis over energy supplies from Russia have set in motion a contradictory diplomacy. It does not end the conflicts but is very unstable, for one simple reason: the economic survival of the West and the political survival of its leaders are at stake. ... If bin Salman gets away with the murder of Khashoggi, Israel will get away with the murder of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin.”