Saudi Crown Prince Tests the Post-Khashoggi Waters with Middle East Tour
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, increasingly referred to simply as “MbS” as his reputation – and notoriety – grows, has ventured out on his first foreign travel itinerary since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – a crime most believe was sanctioned by MbS himself. Some are calling it “MbS’s Test the Waters Tour.” His itinerary began last Thursday with a stop in the United Arab Emirates, a close neighbor that has warm relations with the Saudis. At his second stop, Bahrain, the prince was granted an audience with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the royal palace. If it’s Tuesday it’s Tunisia, the last stop on MbS’s home regional turf before attending the G7 conference in Brazil. International eyes will be on the prince and U.S. President Donald Trump, who has come under scathing criticism – including from members of the Republican Party – for what was seen as a defense by the American leader of the blatant murder of Khashoggi. Observers will be looking for signs that he has backtracked on his controversial embrace of the prince and what many Americans see as a slap in the face of the CIA when he apparently downplayed the agency’s findings to the benefit of the prince.