After the mysterious disappearance and death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to say that things are tense between President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia is an understatement. Trump not only defended Saudi Arabia at first but then quickly changed his tune once he started getting backlash for it. And now, his son-in-law Jared Kushner is making things much worse and putting Trump in a very awkward position.
Trump is apparently fuming over the close relationship Kushner has with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Just yesterday, the Washington Post had a phone interview with the president, which revealed that Trump thinks his son-in-law has now become a liability more than an asset and could worsen relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
While Trump said the Saudi explanation for what happened to Khashoggi was “credible” on Friday, the next day U.S. officials stated that the president “grimaced” over Kushner’s close relationship with the Saudi crown prince. During the interview with the Post, Trump said Kushner was doing a “very good job” but suggested that both Kushner and the Saudi crown prince were both too young to have so much power. He said:
They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other, I believe.”
The Post reported:
The Trump administration made its relationship with Mohammed a linchpin of its Middle East policy, relying on him to help strike a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis and unite the Arab world against Iran. Now, the Saudi government’s handling of the killing of a Washington Post contributing columnist has tarnished Mohammed’s image as the Trump administration is questioning the value of its high-profile partnership with him.”
The White House has insisted that Kushner “has always meticulously followed protocols and collaborated with colleagues regarding the relationship with [Crown Prince Mohammed] and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts.” However, CNN reported that Kushner has had private conversations with the Saudi crown prince through private channels, which is not permitted through U.S. guidelines.
Trump is obviously concerned about Kushner pursuing his own agenda with Saudi Arabia and is annoyed by how bad this makes him look as POTUS. Maybe he should have thought twice before appointing his unqualified family members to top positions.
Featured image via screen capture