Ilhan Omar on Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia: ‘It sends the wrong message to everyone who cares about human rights’

‘Starting this trend of saying you’re going to do one thing on foreign policy, and not really is harmful’, the Squad member tells The Independent as Joe Biden visits Saudi Arabia.

Eric Garcia
Friday 15 July 2022 15:27 BST
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Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota criticised President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, saying it sends the wrong message about the United States’ position on human rights.

The Minnesota Democrat and member of the Squad, who is a refugee from Somalia, said Mr Biden’s trip goes back on his word that he would make Saudi Arabia a “pariah nation” after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We are going to make them pay the price, and make them in fact, the pariah that they are,” he said when he was running for president.

But now, Mr Biden is set to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The president’s trip to Saudi Arabia comes as part of a multi-leg swing through the Middle East that included a trip to Israel. Mr Biden is set to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday after Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited him to a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates alongside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The move comes despite not just the murder of Mr Khashoggi, which caused outrage in the United States, but also after Mr Biden criticised the Saudi government for killing children during the war in Yemen. Since then, though, Mr Biden has touted improvements in the region mean there is a possibility for peace in Yemen.

But Ms Omar said the move will indicate that the United States does not care about women or human rights.

“I think it sends the wrong message to everyone who cares about human rights and cares about the United States upholding the values of protecting human rights care, you know, advancing democracies, speaking up for women,” she said. “Starting this trend of saying you're going to do one thing on foreign policy, and not really is harmful to you that we have seen by the outside world.”

-John Bowden and Andrew Buncombe contributed reporting.

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