"Democracy": US reporters restricted in Jeddah, live coverage cut off
Censorship and silencing are what Riyadh does best.
Washington's double standards could not exhibit themselves more clearly: Employing "democratic values" as an excuse for intervention has become too old a tradition in destroying nations around the world that one cannot see how every US administration favored interest over values.
The summit's reaction to the reporters came to show that not only doesn't the US take its own "democracy-o-meter" seriously, but it was also indicative of Biden's intention to reset relations with Saudi Arabia, regardless of its history of human rights violations.
In today's episode of this theatrical showcase, US reporters with pressing questions - in other words, questions that made the Saudi de facto Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman uncomfortable - were met with plenty of censorship.
Sensitive topics were brushed upon; analysts, according to the Wall Street Journal, are saying the Saudis have expressed outrage at some of the questions asked, such as the killing of Washington Post's journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and whether Biden still considers Saudi Arabia a "pariah" state as it had in his political campaign.
One US reporter asked whether MBS would apologize to Khashoggi's family - after which Saudi officials expressed outrage, in private. Upon being asked this question, MBS forced a smile, though sour, which analysts are saying is an act of defiance. Bin Salman gave a response asserting that Biden came all the way to Jeddah to ask for the Kingdom's forgiveness, especially in light of his previous campaign promises to treat Riyadh like a pariah.
لاحظوا إضطراب محمد بن سلمان عندما سألت الصحافة الأمريكية بايدن عن جريمة إغتيال جمال خاشقجي— درة السيد (@DorraEssayed) July 15, 2022
ملاحظة الصحافة العربية لم تجرؤ
ملاحظة ثانية قناة العربية قطعت البث بعد مرور هذا السؤال
الصحافة الأمريكية تسأل بايدن عن دم الشهيد خاشقجي أمام المسؤول عن مقتله وجريمة اغتياله pic.twitter.com/brR1lK69Km
In an attempt to prevent awkward moments, the Saudi royal court instructed its employees to prohibit any transmission equipment or boom microphones from entering the room, especially so that American journalists wouldn't be able to hear Biden's brief remarks with the Crown Prince during the meeting.
As soon as reporters began asking the Saudi Crown prince questions, the country's broadcasting agency, Al Arabiya, cut off the live feed.
But, that's not all. Behind closed doors was another scenario - a more real one.
According to two Saudi officials familiar with the matter, in a closed-door meeting, bin Salman was not having it when fingers were being pointed at him and his Kingdom regarding the murder of his dissident. The situation resembled a personal "but you!" back-and-forth between Biden and the Crown Prince. Bringing up the murder, bin Salman bit back by pointing out Washington's weak response to human rights issues, including the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and the recent assassination of Palestinian reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.
Bin Salman argued that the US cannot impose its values on Saudi Arabia, pointing to Washington's failed adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While Washington markets itself as the beacon of human rights and the savior of the planet, the compromisation of its own fake values clearly comes to exhibit its priorities in the domestic and the international arena. Saudi Arabia is none other than a piece of the puzzle in its imperialist project in West Asia, and its human rights record looks close to that of its very close ally - drenched in blood.