Prince Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Washington D.C. on Monday, 20 March 2018, beginning a two-week tour of the United States (Reuters 1). According to Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies, the prince’s visit has several purposes. Hashemi stated that Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s main goal is “rehabilitating Saudi Arabia’s image in the minds of the U.S. public” (Al Jazeera). In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, aired as the prince arrived in the U.S., Mohammed bin Salman seemed to be pursuing this aim (CBS). The very first subject he addressed was the association with terrorism that “many Americans” make when they think about Saudi Arabia (CBS). He also discussed gender equality, economic plans, human rights, corruption, and the possibility of a nuclear Saudi Arabia (CBS). Accusing Iran of supporting Al-Qaeda and prolonging the civil war in Yemen, the prince compared Iran’s ruler Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler (CBS). This discussion brought the prince to the assertion that if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, Saudi Arabia “will follow suit as soon as possible,” (CBS).
Other aspects of bin Salman’s visit include the initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Arabia’s national oil company (Fortune) and other financial interests. Finally, although it was not mentioned in the CBS interview and the Saudi foreign minister called it a “very small matter,” there is the issue of Qatar (Reuters 1). A dispute between Qatar and several neighboring countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain has been ongoing since July 2017 (Reuters 2). While the issue was not discussed by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the dispute is one of American president Donald Trump’s main concerns (Reuters 2). Just before Trump’s meeting with the prince, a senior aide stated that Trump “believes unity among Gulf is critical… and wants to organize a meeting of Gulf leaders” to resolve the dispute (Reuters 2).
Tags: United States, Saudi Arabia, Security, Global Peace, Prince Mohammed bin Salman