Show an ad over header. AMP

Biden attempts major Saudi reset ahead of Khashoggi report

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.

  • The most dramatic step yet will be the publication of the Khashoggi report, expected Friday. Its release was mandated by Congress but blocked by Donald Trump.
  • Sanctions are expected to follow on Saudis accused of taking part in the murder, though MBS is unlikely to be targeted directly.
  • Between the lines: Biden's foreign policy has thus far featured more strategic reviews than bold strokes. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia — having promised on the campaign trail to “make them the pariah that they are" — Biden seems to be ripping the bandaid off all at once.

Flashback: Trump's first foreign trip was to Riyadh. His administration saw the kingdom as a key market for U.S. arms and a pivotal partner in countering Iran.

  • It shielded MBS, a close contact of Jared Kushner's, from the outrage in Washington over Khashoggi's murder.
  • Clearly, times have changed.

“It’s pretty dramatic,” says David Rundell, a former U.S. chief of mission in Riyadh and the author of Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads, of Biden's early steps. “To be honest, I find it all rather dangerous.”

  • Rundell notes that in addition to cooperating with the U.S. against Iran and in counter-terrorism, Saudi Arabia supports stability in oil markets and in the region through its aid to other Arab governments. The kingdom has also played a behind-the-scenes role in fostering relations between Israel and the Arab world.
  • The kingdom does those things mainly out of self-interest, Rundell says. But they’re also willing to hedge their bets.
  • “What would really indicate to me that they had had enough? A significant increase in their relationship with either Russia or China.”

The big picture: Biden’s intention is not to sever the relationship but to bring it down to size. While the leaders of America's democratic allies are wrapped in an embrace, the impulsive crown prince is kept at arm's length.

  • Biden appears to have attempted to reassure King Salman in their call today.
  • According to the White House readout, he noted the “historic nature” of the relationship, welcomed the recent release of jailed Saudi activists and pledged to help Saudi Arabia defend itself.

Big European soccer teams announce breakaway league

12 of world soccer's biggest and richest clubs announced Sunday they've formed a breakaway European "Super League" — with clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona Real Madrid, Juventus and A.C. Milan among those to sign up.

Details: So far the breakaway league that's due to start in August consists of six clubs from England, three from Spain and three from Italy.

Keep reading... Show less

Senate Democrats settling on 25% corporate tax rate

The universe of Democratic senators concerned about raising the corporate tax rate to 28% is broader than Sen. Joe Manchin, and the rate will likely land at 25%, parties close to the discussion tell Axios.

Why it matters: While increasing the rate from 21% to 25% would raise about $600 billion over 15 years, it would leave President Biden well short of paying for his proposed $2.25 trillion, eight-year infrastructure package.

Keep reading... Show less

Republican leaders raked in sizable donations from grassroots supporters

Republican leaders turned to grassroots supporters and raked in sizable donations after corporations cut them off post-Jan. 6.

Why it matters: If those companies hoped to push the GOP toward the center, they may have done just the opposite by turning Republican lawmakers toward their most committed — and ideologically driven — supporters.

Keep reading... Show less

CDC: Half of US adults have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Half of US adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about a third are fully vaccinated, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still on the rise, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during Friday's White House COVID-19 briefing. With cases in many states being driven by variants, public health officials have emphasized the need to ramp up vaccinations.

Keep reading... Show less

Israeli intel agencies believe Vienna talks will lead to U.S. return to Iran nuclear deal

Israeli military intelligence and senior officials in the Mossad briefed a meeting of the nation's security cabinet that talks in Vienna between Iran and other world powers will lead to the U.S. returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, two officials who attended the meeting told me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is very concerned about a U.S. return to the nuclear deal and is trying to convince the Biden administration not to take the pressure off the Iranian regime.

Keep reading... Show less

"It hurts": Latino community of 13-year-old killed by police in Chicago reels after shooting

Residents of Little Village, a well-known and predominantly Latino neighborhood in Chicago, are grieving the death of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Mexican American boy from the neighborhood who was shot and killed by a police officer on March 29, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: Adam Toledo's killing shines a spotlight on police shootings of Latinos, who are killed by law enforcement at the second-highest rate after Black Americans, according to data from the Washington Post.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden adviser warns "there will be consequences" for Russia if Navalny dies

The Biden administration warned the Russian government "that there will be consequences" if jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

The big picture: Sullivan also defended President Biden for not mentionining Navalny in a Thursday speech about Russia or in a Tuesday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin,saying the White House aims to deal with the issue "privately and through diplomatic channels."

Keep reading... Show less

Prosecutor on leave for failing to "fully present the facts" after shooting of 13-year-old boy

Cook County prosecutor James Murphy was placed on administrative leave Friday after he implied in court that 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by a police officer in March, was armed when he was shot, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times report.

Why it matters: Videos of the shooting show that Toledo dropped what appears to be a weapon and put his hands in the air a moment before before he was fatally shot. A lawyer for the Toledo family said Thursday that if the teen "had a gun, he tossed it."

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories