News Release

Biden Grants More Immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Than Trump Did


Bazzi is director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies and a journalism professor at New York University. He is also a non-resident fellow at Democracy for the Arab World Now, which was founded by Jamal Khashoggi.

Bazzi just wrote the piece “Biden’s decision to grant Saudi crown prince immunity is a profound mistake.” He writes: “The Biden administration told a U.S. judge last week that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, should be granted immunity in a civil lawsuit over his role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That decision effectively ends one of the last efforts to hold the prince accountable for Khashoggi’s assassination by a Saudi hit team inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. …

“Thanks to the Biden administration’s immunity decision, Prince Mohammed now has a level of protection from U.S. legal actions that even Trump did not offer him. …

“With the prince now shielded from legal action stemming from his regime’s human rights abuses, he will feel far more comfortable traveling to the U.S. and Europe – anywhere he could have faced judicial accountability. And he will be emboldened to crack down more brutally on Saudi dissidents and political opponents, both at home and abroad.

“In fact, instead of showing leniency or accommodating his critics, Prince Mohammed has followed the same playbook since he rose to power with his father’s ascension to the Saudi throne: he seeks to assert his strength and brutal authority, even after he gets what he wants. …

“Biden continues to abandon his stated principles in the hopes of appeasing an autocrat who disdains him. Biden has failed to live up to his promise to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy, and a pledge during the 2020 presidential campaign to seek accountability for Khashoggi’s murder, when he declared: ‘Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will reassess our relationship with the Kingdom, end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil.’

“Today, after nearly two years in power, the Biden administration is still providing weapons and military support to Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. has now shielded the crown prince from any meaningful accountability for Khashoggi’s killing.”