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Biden’s Dilemmas, Part 1: Punishing Saudi Arabia

In the first of two parts about what we’re learning about the current administration, we look at the president’s approach to justice in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

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March 5, 2021

Joe Biden has had harsh words for the Saudis and the kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, throughout the election campaign and, now, during his presidency.

Last week, he took the bold step of releasing an intelligence report that implicated the crown prince in the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and dissident who was dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Mr. Biden’s words and actions have signaled that the period of appeasement toward the Saudis by the Trump administration is over. But his administration’s inaction over the report has disappointed many of his allies.

Today, we look at the Biden administration’s approach to Saudi Arabia.

Biden’s Dilemmas, Part 1: Punishing Saudi Arabia 13

David E. Sanger, a White House and national security correspondent for The Times.

President Joe Biden attends a CNN Town Hall with Anderson Cooper in Milwaukee last month.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
  • For President Biden, deliberation and caution has thus far been his approach on the world stage (this article is also available in Spanish).

  • The president has decided not to penalize the Saudi crown prince over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, fearing a breach in relations. This decision will disappoint many in the human rights community and in his own party.

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David E. Sanger contributed reporting.

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