Policy wonks and politicians have long touted Saudi Arabia as a key U.S. ally, a much-needed bulwark of stability in a “turbulent Middle East.” This relationship will likely get a boost this week, following Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's meeting Tuesday with President Donald Trump.
The U.S.-Saudi friendship spans decades, but Trump and the crown prince, commonly referred to by his initials “MBS,” share a particular talent at attracting headlines. They also appear more brazen, almost eager, to spin facts — or ignore them — to deflect criticism of their own and each other’s rights abuses at home and abroad.
After rapidly consolidating power at home, MBS is on a world tour aimed at shoring up foreign support and investment. His trip to the U.S. reportedly will include not only Washington, but New York, Boston, Seattle and Silicon Valley — centers of American power and industry.
Saudi Arabia (with its array of public relations firms) has a particular narrative to sell on this trip: A country on the cusp of change. A bold reformer on a transformative path. An ally dedicated to helping the U.S. meet its security needs against extremists and Iran.