All Eyes On Saudi Crown Prince At G20 Summit In Buenos Aires
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrived in Buenos Aires to attend the G20 summit, amid an ongoing fierce backlash against Riyadh over the October 2 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul. The kingdom initially denied any involvement but subsequently blamed the murder on a rogue operation, all the while attempting to insulate bin Salman from criticism. Indeed, Western countries, including the United States, have sanctioned Riyadh, with some going so far as to suspend future arm sales to the Sunni Muslim nation. Ahead of his trip to Argentina, bin Salman embarked on a regional tour to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in order to shore up support for his rule. For his part, President Donald Trump, while condemning Khashoggi’s killing and describing the ensuing events as “the worst cover-up in history,” nevertheless repeatedly has made clear that the White House will continue to uphold “steadfast” bilateral relations. In fact, it was announced Wednesday that Saudi Arabia will buy a $15 billion missile defense system from U.S.-based Lockheed Martin, despite Congressional opposition to the move. The deal apparently was concluded following a personal call between the American leader and Saudi King Salman, and after heavy lobbying by the Trump administration. On the other end of the spectrum is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has come down hard on the crown prince while attempting to use the crisis to bolster his own ties with Washington and advance Ankara’s interests in the Middle East. Bin Salman reportedly requested to meet with Erdogan at the G20 summit, although no face-to-face has been confirmed.