Turki Al-Faisal, a Saudi Arabian prince and the kingdom’s former intelligence chief, called President Joe Biden a “much diminished” leader ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Biden arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday as part of a larger tour of the Middle East. During his visit Biden — who castigated the Saudi government during his presidential campaign — asked the Saudi government to begin supplying more oil to help support oil production around the world.
In an interview with CNBC ahead of Biden’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, Al-Faisal said, “President Biden, in my view, he’s coming as a much diminished president than when he was first elected.”
“As an example, on energy issues, he came in with a policy to stop completely fossil fuel usage not only in the United States, but worldwide,” Al-Faisal said. “And now he is finding himself having to rely on fossil fuels as a means of meeting the energy shortage that has come about, not only because of the Ukraine war, but also because of U.S. policy itself that shut down pipelines and stopped issuing of, you know, discovery of oil on U.S. soil.”
During a November 2019 Democrat presidential debate, Biden raised allegations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the 2018 killing of Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden said as President, “I would make it very clear we were not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to [Saudi Arabia], we were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”
Despite Biden’s past critical remarks and Al-Faisal’s assessment that the U.S. president had diminished himself, Biden announced on Friday that he had reached a tentative deal with Saudi Arabia for more oil.
“The two sides underscored the importance of strategic economic and investment cooperation, particularly in light of the current crisis in Ukraine and its consequences, and reaffirmed their commitment to a stable global energy market,” the Biden administration and the Saudi government said in a joint statement. “The U.S. welcomed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to support global oil markets balancing for sustained economic growth. Both sides decided to consult regularly on global energy markets in the near- and long-term, as well as work together as strategic partners in climate and energy transition initiatives, recognizing Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the future of energy.”
During a press conference on Friday, journalists asked Biden if he regretted calling the Saudi crown prince a Pariah.
“I don’t regret anything that I said,” Biden replied. “What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous.”
Biden was also asked to respond to criticisms for giving the Saudi crown prince a fist bump upon arriving in Saudi Arabia and what assurances there are that actions like the killing of Khashoggi will not happen again.
“I just made it clear if anything occurs like that again, they’ll get that response and much more,” he said.
“Look, you’ve heard me say before — and when I criticized Xi Jinping for slave labor and what they’re doing in the — in the western mountains of China, and they said I had no right to criticize China,” Biden said. “And I said, ‘Look, I am President of the United States of America. For the United States President to remain silent on a clear violation of human rights is totally inconsistent with who we are, what we are, and what we would do, what we believe.’ And so I’m not going to remain silent.”
“Can I predict anything is going to happen, let alone here, let alone in any other part of the world? No,” Biden added. “But I don’t know why you’re all so surprised the way I react. No one has ever wondered did I mean what I say. The question is I sometimes say all that I mean.”