Jul 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden's fist bump with Saudi crown prince gets blowback

Photo: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden's fist bump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has swiftly brought backlash.

Driving the news: U.S. officials had determined that MBS was responsible for the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a conclusion Saudi officials reject. The Post's publisher, Fred Ryan, on Friday said the fist bump "was worse than a handshake — it was shameful."

  • "It projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking," Ryan added in his statement.

Why it matters: Biden once vowed to make the kingdom a "pariah," and U.S.-Saudi relations have been strained over a number of issues, including the murder of Khashoggi.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancée, tweeted in response to the fist bump photograph, saying that if Khashoggi had witnessed the interaction, he would have said: "Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS' next victim is on your hands."

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who serves as chair of House Intelligence Committee tweeted that the fist bump "is worth a thousand words."

  • "If we ever needed a visual reminder of the continuing grip oil-rich autocrats have on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, we got it today."

What's happening: Following the criticism, Biden said that he brought up Khashoggi's murder to MBS, adding that he "made my view crystal clear...I'll always stand up for our values."

Go deeper: Biden says he raised Khashoggi's murder with Saudi crown prince

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