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The outcomes and optics of President Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia

US President Joe Biden arrives at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah.
US President Joe Biden arrives at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah.

President Joe Biden is back in Washington this week after his first trip to the Middle East while in office. Although Biden is no stranger to the region and its complexities, the stakes were high.

One of his biggest challenges, however, is waiting for him back home: backlash over visiting Saudi Arabia and sitting down with Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A U.S. intelligence report found that MBS ordered the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and outspoken critic of the Saudi government. Saudi Arabia punishes dissenting voices and has a poor record on women’s rights.

During a presidential debate in 2019, Biden said he would crack down on Saudi leaders for their human rights abuses. That was candidate Biden in 2019. But in 2022, President Biden made the trip to what he calls a more secure and integrated Middle East.

So, what changed? And was the trip worth it? 

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Michelle Harven