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Friday, March 30, 2018

Will it be true or are they false pretenses?

Por sumily

The reforms proposed by the first oil exporter represent a huge opportunity for the United States. But the arrests originated by Bin Salmán risk terrorizing investors and a large part of the investments and purchases in the US that Trump promised to the Saudi kingdom during his visit to Riyadh in May 2017 must still be confirmed. If we add to this, the misgivings in Washington about Riyadh's more aggressive foreign policy.

Bin Salman's stay coincided with a vote in the Senate, sparked by the Democrats and rejected by the Republican majority in the House, which sought to withdraw US logistical support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen, which has killed numerous civilians.For his part, US President Donald Trump seeks to pressure the prince, who is also the minister of defense, to find a way out of the crisis in Yemen and the blockade of the Gulf countries to Qatar. It also aims to get him away from Russia, a country with which Saudi Arabia has signed agreements on security and energy.

In the presence of journalists and different media, praise was exchanged about the strength of the bilateral relationship and the opportunities for cooperation. Once the cameras were far away, the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman at the White House should serve to stop the growing friction between Washington and Riyadh, such as the dispute with Qatar, the Saudi military campaign in Yemen, the scope of its promises of economic opening or the nuclear ambitions of the Arab absolute monarchy.

Both leaders also addressed their shared enmity with Iran and the nuclear agreement.In his little more than a year as president, this is the second time that Trump receives MBS in the White House, the acronym with which the Saudi prince is known, but it is the first since the son of King Salmán strengthened his role as heir and leader in the shade. Both leaders share their irrefutable rejection of Iran and their desire to strengthen bilateral ties.

According to the US president, at this moment perhaps the relationship is probably as strong as it has ever been. There is a mutual understanding.And is that the strong relationship with Riyadh has overcome the misgivings prevalent during the presidency of Barack Obama, fruit of his approach to Tehran, however, not everything is rosy, several clouds hover over the understanding between Trump and BinSalmán.The Saudi heir has opened a range of ambitious economic and social reforms in the hermetic and ultraconservative country, which include the lifting of restrictions on women, loss of power of religious estates and an opening to foreign investors, transformations that the West has been demanding for years.

However, Bin Salmán also promoted in November 2017, a disputed palace purge with the arrest of 200 people, including princes and ministers, accused of embezzling 100,000 million dollars. They were held in a luxury hotel under accusations of abuse.From the point of view of Bruce Riedel, who was adviser on the Middle East of the last four American presidents and worked 30 years in the CIA, Bin Salmán's purpose in visiting the White House is to promote his image. The prince faces an avalanche of negative publicity about the campaign against prominent Saudis, his private life as he is said to abuse his wife, and foreign policy with the deliberate massive famine in Yemen.

All this despite the public relations effort to describe him as a reformer.