Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, reportedly kept US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, waiting for hours for a scheduled meeting, delivering a significant snub to the top US diplomat. According to The Washington Post, the meeting eventually took place the next day.
Blinken, on a diplomatic mission to rally Middle East allies, aimed to garner support against Hamas' attacks in Israel. The primary objective was to persuade leaders, including Mohammed bin Salman, to condemn the violence and address domestic unrest triggered by the conflict.
However, Riyadh presented a chilly reception, revealing key differences between US and Saudi positions. Blinken, expecting an evening meeting upon arrival on Saturday, was kept waiting for hours, with the crown prince finally appearing the next morning.
During the meeting, Mohammed bin Salman called for Israel to cease military operations causing civilian casualties, especially in Gaza, where Israel conducted extensive bombardments and imposed a blockade on essential supplies. He also advocated for de-escalation of the conflict.
This stance diverges from the Biden administration's position. While President Biden supports Israel's actions against Hamas, he emphasizes the need to protect civilian lives.
Blinken's attempts to find common ground with another regional ally, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, also faced challenges. The report suggests that recent Hamas attacks aimed to sabotage potential historic agreements between Saudi Arabia and Israel, signaling the kingdom's move towards a more independent foreign policy.
Saudi Arabia, a longstanding US ally, has recently sought a more autonomous path, forming closer ties with China. Last year, tensions escalated when the Saudis, in a diplomatic spat, rejected the Biden administration's request to increase oil production.