News ID: 114109
Publish Date : 18 April 2023 - 22:44

U.S. Senator Who Called MBS ‘Toxic’ Heaps Praise After Saudi Order of Boeing

RIYADH (Middle East Eye) – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said he was in Saudi Arabia last week to say “thanks” to the kingdom for its purchase of $36bn worth of Boeing jets which will be produced in his home state of South Carolina.
The U.S. senator was one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most vocal critics after the 2018 murder of Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. At the time, Graham called the crown prince “a wrecking ball” and an unreliable U.S. partner.
Graham’s trip to Saudi Arabia after vowing not to visit the kingdom as long as Mohammed bin Salman was “in charge”, marks a sharp reversal in his position. It underlines how the crown prince has effectively deployed the kingdom’s economic and geopolitical heft to reemerge on the world stage.
U.S. President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July after vowing to make Mohammed bin Salman a “pariah” over the Khashoggi killing, which the CIA claimed was ordered by the crown prince.
Referring to the Khashoggi killing, Graham said in 2018 that nothing in Saudi Arabia happens without Mohammed bin Salman’s knowledge. “The MBS figure is to me, toxic. He can never be a world leader on the world stage.”
Middle East Eye previously reported how Biden’s visit effectively ushered in the end of the crown prince’s brief isolation, with lobbyists that once dropped the Saudis re-signing them as clients. The crown prince made a follow-up visit to Europe shortly after.
Like its Persian Gulf neighbors, Riyadh has been bolstered by a revival of traditional concerns about energy security, following the Ukraine war.
“I just had a very productive, candid meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince and his senior leadership team,” Graham said in a tweet on Tuesday. “The opportunity to enhance the U.S.-Saudi relationship is real and the reforms going on in Saudi Arabia are equally real.”
In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Graham doubled down on his visit, saying he had been in touch with the Biden administration to “build on the reforms” Saudi Arabia was carrying out and the Abraham Accords.
“If you get nothing else out of this interview, things in Saudi Arabia are changing very quickly for the better,” Graham said.
“Vision 2030 of the crown prince is real. His vision for the country economically is transformative,” he added.