On October 23rd, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid the outrage surrounding the shady explanations of the Khashoggi murder.
A photograph of the meeting between Mnuchin and the Crown Prince was posted on Twitter by the Saudi foreign ministry. The tweet also included a comment that the MBS stressed “the importance of Saudi-US strategic partnership, where it holds an important role in the future in line with the Kingdom’s #Vision2030.”
The Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 is long-term development plan with the aim of reducing the Kingdom’s dependence on oil revenues and diversify its fossil-fuel-driven economy.
Mnuchin’s visit to Riyadh during his trip to six countries in the Middle East come as he announced he would not attend a high-profile investor conference. He joined other government officials from multiple countries as well as top banking and finance executives who also bowed out of the event due to the Saudi misconduct.
Mnuchin, who earlier confirmed his visit to Riyadh as part of the Middle East tour, has neither issued any comment on his talks with bin Salman, nor released a photo of the meeting. The Treasury released photos of meetings with Israeli and Jordanian leaders.
Tony Sayegh, a top Treasury spokesman, said Mnuchin and the crown prince discussed combating terrorism financing, implementing sanctions on Iran and the Khashoggi investigation.
On October 22nd, US President Donald Trump said he remained unsatisfied with the Saudi explanation, however despite pressure from within the US and outside of it, he reiterated that he doesn’t wish to suspend relations and specifically arms sales between the countries. According to the RT, if Trump succumbs to the pressure, which has only increased since Saudi Arabia admitted to Jamal’s death, that would mean a halting to $450 billion in arms sales to the Kingdom.
The meeting between Mnuchin and MBS shows the US seemingly unending support for Saudi Arabia and sparked outrage on Twitter.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called the meeting a “sad day for America.”
Sad day for America—a seeming sell out & business as usual in Mnuchin meeting with suspect Saudi Crown Prince. Apparent seal of approval before the facts are known about MBS’s complicity in Khashoggi murder. Are we now just a pawn in Saudi propaganda? https://t.co/aBiMdkGtOP
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) October 22, 2018
MBS wins another round against Trump, who just doesn't care if a country kills a US journalist: "Mnuchin meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite outcry over government’s role in journalist’s death" https://t.co/RAzytwNvv5
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) October 22, 2018
— Mehmet (@xMehmet) October 22, 2018
Reuters also cited anonymous sources who claimed that the Kingdom is to sign $50 billion in oil, gas and infrastructure deals during the high-profile investor conference also known as Davos in the Desert. The deals will be signed with companies including Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes, the source said.
The Reuters anonymous source claimed:
“The deals will include the establishment of a copper, zinc and lead smelter with Trafigura Group; a joint agreement to build an integrated petrochemical complex and downstream park in the second phase of the SATORP refinery, jointly held by Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Total; and investments in retail gas stations also by Aramco and Total.”
As of now, Germany is the only country that has suspended its arms exports to Saudi Arabia in connection to the Khashoggi murder. The three biggest arms sellers to the Kingdom – the US, the UK and France, are yet to undertake any actions apart from a strong rhetoric, mostly by officials who have no executive power.
On October 23rd, Turkish President Recep Taiyyp Erdogan is to hold a press conference, announcing all the details that Turkish authorities have discovered surrounding the disappearance and murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It is yet to be seen, however, if further evidence would prompt parties to value human rights and life higher than investment.