Scholz to meet MBS in next week visit to the Gulf, maybe the King
German Chancellor to visit Saudi Arabia amidst an energy crisis.
A spokesperson of the German chancellory announced on Monday that Chancellor Olaf Scholz, accompanied by a business delegation, will head to the Gulf on a 2-day trip, during which he will visit Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia where he will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and King Salman if his health permits.
The Spokesman Steffen Hebestreit did not disclose further information regarding the agenda of the visit, however, he stated that he will be very surprised if it did not include energy discussions, adding that, "the murder of Mr. Khashoggi will certainly figure in discussions".
This visit comes shortly after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), among other human rights organizations, condemned Saudi Arabia for sentencing the women's rights activist Salma Al-Shehab to 34 years of imprisonment after the Kingdom widened its repressive measures against pro-democracy campaigners following the easing of its isolation from the international community after the brutal killing of Khashoggi.
Al-Shehab was sentenced to six years in prison for using an internet website to allegedly "cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security," according to the UNHRC, but after a public prosecutor requested that other alleged crimes be considered, an appeals court recently increased the sentence to 34 years, along with a 34-year travel ban.
However, Salma was not the last victim of the Saudi regime. Court records reviewed by a human rights organization show that a second Saudi Arabian woman, Nourah bint Saeed Al-Qahtani, has been sentenced to decades in jail for using social media to "violate the public order" by the country's terrorism court.
The Council maintained that Saudi authorities have used their return to the international fold following the horrific murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to intensify their crackdown on political opponents.
As Europe scrambles to secure energy supplies amidst the sanctions on Russian energy products, Western leaders have been pivoting away from previously declared stances regarding Saudi Arabia and the crown prince.
After calling the Saudi Kingdom a "Pariah" state, US President Joe Biden paid a visit to the oil-rich Gulf state late last June, at a time that the US was grappling with an energy crisis domestically.
The US President was not alone to put oil interests over "humanitarian principles" when it comes to Saudi Arabia and its crown prince.
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) arrived in Greece past July for the first time since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi three years ago. Bin Salman received red-carpet treatment upon his arrival where he was received with smiles, handshakes, and backslaps.
Following his visit to Greece, MBS landed in France on an official visit and met with French President Macron during a working dinner at the Elysée palace.
Macron's office made no official statement on the talks which were expected to focus on securing extra oil and gas supplies from the Middle East's biggest producer.