Add one more twist to the story of what went on in Joe Biden’s meeting in Saudi Arabia.
According to Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, contacted Heinrich’s Fox colleague Alex Hogan. He pointedly said that he “did not hear” Joe Biden tell MBS he believed he was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. That’s a not too subtle way of saying Biden didn’t say it.
🚨NEW: POTUS left Saudi Arabia for AF1 on Monday, and Saudi FM Adel Al-Jubeir was called by me as my colleague. @AlexHoganTV back for a 2nd interview – even though Fox interviewed him yday.
He pointedly claimed he “did not hear” Biden tell MBS he believed he was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) July 16, 2022
The men also smashed some other claims Biden and others made about the meeting.
1. Biden described lifting restrictions from Israel on Israeli flights as another step towards normalization. Saudis stated that lifting restrictions on flights from Israel was not a sign of future cooperation.
2. Biden claimed that oil talks were fruitful, that the two countries shared the US need to expand supply and suggested there would soon be news of any developments. But that isn’t what the Saudis are saying.
Saudi leaders have repeatedly said they will not increase the kingdom’s oil production without the agreement of its partners in OPEC+, which next meets on Aug. 3.
Saudi Arabia is close to reaching its production capacity. MBS has outlined plans to expand capacity to 13 million barrels a day. This plan existed before Biden was there, and the Oil Price estimates that it would take 2027 for that to become a reality. Some have mistakenly taken MBS’s statement on Saturday regarding increasing capacity as something that is more urgent. But it wasn’t immediate, and it was not a product of the meeting with Biden.
They stated that no discussions were held on oil production during the GCC Summit with Gulf States and they would continue to do whatever was necessary for the market to remain balanced.
3. Biden did at least mention Khashoggi’s name, according to this account, and in response, MBS supposedly retorted with what Biden was doing about the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during fire between the Israeli IDF and Palestinians. MBS wanted to ask Biden about his plans for justice. Biden didn’t mention that in his presser.
$. Fox also reported Abu Graib prisoner abuse to the Saudi FM. Fox said that no one could believe that George W. Bush had ordered it.
So, I’m not sure what Biden thought he got out of this meeting, with the Saudis just shooting down everything he claimed and even going to the media to dispute it. Not only didn’t he seem to gain anything, but he may also have just lost ground. So, it’s “who do you believe?” time: The Saudis or Biden–and it’s sad that we even have to doubt Biden. However, his record shows that we believe him.