Bow­ing down to a Saudi dic­ta­tor

The Week (US) - - 12 News - Zack Beauchamp Why did Saudi Ara­bia’s Mo­hammed bin Sal­man get “a hero’s wel­come” in the U.S.? asked Zack Beauchamp. The Saudi crown prince, nick­named MBS, just com­pleted a tri­umphant tour of the United States, where he “was re­ceived less like a hu­man rights abuser and more like a vi­sion­ary civil rights hero.” It’s no sur­prise that Trump’s White House would roll out the red car­pet for a coun­try that’s lav­ishly flat­tered this pres­i­dent. But jour­nal­ists also hailed MBS as “rev­o­lu­tion­ary” for mod­est re­forms like al­low­ing women to at­tend soccer matches and drive cars, while Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties in­vited to a pri­vate din­ner treated the prince like “a rock star.” His re­forms—part of a care­fully crafted pub­lic re­la­tions cam­paign—don’t change the fact that Mo­hammed is the de facto ruler of a coun­try where po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents and gay men face the death penalty and women can­not marry, travel, or make other de­ci­sions with­out per­mis­sion from their “male guardian.” The prince is also the chief ar­chi­tect of Saudi Ara­bia’s bru­tal war in Ye­men, which has killed an es­ti­mated 10,000 peo­ple and left mil­lions on the edge of star­va­tion. His tour “was a tri­umph for his PR team,” and an em­bar­rass­ment for Amer­ica.

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