JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The publisher and CEO of the Washington Post says it was “shameful” that President Joe Biden fist-bumped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday.
Fred Ryan says in a statement that the informal greeting with the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia “Was worse than a handshake.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have said they believe the crown prince, known familiarly by his initials, MBS, gave the order that resulted in the brutal killing and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a columnist for the paper.
Ryan added that the fist bump “projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.”
Biden, as a presidential candidate, had promised to make the kingdom a “pariah” in response to the killing, but he moved to rebuild ties as global energy prices soared in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Rep. Schiff Criticizes the Fist Bump as Well
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, tweeted a screenshot imagining what he would have said in response to the meeting, reading “the blood of MBS’s next victim is on your hands.”
The fist bump that everyone is talking about — and that has upset Democrats in Washington — was only witnessed by Saudi Arabian press. The WH press pool wasn’t allowed to cover Biden’s arrival at the palace. We saw photos on Twitter while holding on a bus. https://t.co/ntt1SeJrkM
— Jenny Leonard (@jendeben) July 15, 2022
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said “One fist bump is worth a thousand words.”
He added: “If we ever needed a visual reminder of the continuing grip oil-rich autocrats have on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, we got it today.”
The fist bump marked the first time Biden has met the crown prince since he took office. The brief encounter, which was captured by Saudi television, occurred as Biden stepped out of his presidential limousine after landing in the Red Sea city of Jeddah from Israel.