SecState Pompeo Begins 3-Day Visit to Saudi Arabia
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Saudi Arabia for a 3-day visit before a stop-over in Oman that will wind-up a trip. The Saudi stop is arguably the most sensitive part of the itinerary with an agenda that includes human rights, the economy and Iran. But it’s the first topic that will test the SecState’s diplomatic skills given the sensitivity of confronting Saudi leadership with the matter of Dr. Walid Fitaihi, a physician who holds joint U.S. and Saudi citizenship and who has been forcibly held in the kingdom since 2017 when he was arrested in a so-called corruption crackdown by heir-apparent to the throne Sheikh Mohammad bin Salmon and allegedly tortured. Officials say Fitaihi is not going anywhere pending trial but there has been no indication when the trial will be or even what the charges are. All of this plays into case of James Khashoggi who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul while he was in the process of investigating the crackdown. The Khashoggi affair proved to be an international setback for Prince Salmon. Members of the American Congress have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the Saudi regime and SecState Pompeo will have many eyes observing his handling of this political hot potato. Critics accuse the Trump administration of failing to hold the Saudis properly for unacceptable human rights practices.