In Oval Office talks, Trump and Prince Mohammed discussed an agreement a year ago for $200 billion worth of Saudi investments with the United States, including large purchases of military equipment.
This led relations to an “all time high”, says The Washington Post – and today the alliance is more than just a superficial marriage of convenience bred through familiarity.
One person “who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers” told the Intercept that MBS bragged to United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed that Kushner was “in his pocket”.
Before being stripped off top-secret service clearance, the White House adviser apparently used to religiously read the daily briefings, which only the president and his top advisers have access to.
Before losing that access, Kushner was particularly interested in information about the Middle East, The Intercept reported, citing several former White House and United States government officials.
The prince earlier visited the Capitol to meet with top congressional leaders, many of whom raised concerns over the Saudi-led coalition’s role in the war and massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and USA support for the Saudis. This in turn requires that the religious establishment be forced to surrender its austere grip on society. It has also caused a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries.
Prince Mohammed has help direct a series of social reforms in Saudi Arabia.
Kushner’s defense team denies leaking names of Saudi critics who were subsequently arrested and tortured.
Much of the itinerary on his two-week trip is outside Washington.
That devastating two-year-old conflict was an early proving ground for the prince, then the minister of defense, but it has been beset by atrocities against civilians and strategic drift.
By the same token, the youth feel that all citizens have to bear the brunt of the changes, including a royal family that had extensive privileges known to all and resented by all – hence, the recent widely reported episode at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. “That’s peanuts for you; we should have increased it”, Trump said. The briefings are highly confidential and are tightly guarded.
During his two and a half week sojourn to US, Saudi Crown Prince MBS will also travel to New York, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston to cultivate investments.
On the other hand, if Kushner shared the information on his own without presidential authority, he may have violated federal laws.
The other, equally important dimension to the visit, though, will be to strengthen ties in the fields of defence and security cooperation. (This would include Raytheon, a USA defense contractor, being allowed to sell $7 billion worth of “smart bombs” to Saudi Arabia).
As Prince Mohammed arrived in Washington, word trickled out that Saudi Aramco – the kingdom’s energy behemoth – was cooling on the idea of a stock listing in NY, something for which Trump has publicly lobbied.
Some of the things that we are now working on-thanks-and that have been ordered and will shortly be started in construction and delivered: “THAAD system, $13 billion; the C-130 heli-airplanes, the Hercules, great plane, $3.8 billion; the Bradley vehicles, that’s the tanks, $1.2 billion; and the P-8 Poseidons, $1.4 billion”.