Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) of going “full gangster” during a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday for the nomination of General John Abizaid to Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Of course, accusing someone else of going “full gangster” is somewhat hypocritical coming from Rubio, who is known for quoting rappers Jay-Z and Wiz Khalifa on the Senate floor, and has proclaimed his admiration for self-described “thug” 2Pac. Rubio was also himself arrested in Miami in 1990 while loitering in a gang-ridden neighborhood with a crew of questionable associates.
“They are also our most difficult partner right now because it almost asks us to agree to stay silent on grotesque violations of human rights both domestically and abroad and their crown prince is not making things easier,” Rubio continued. “He is reckless, he’s ruthless, he has a penchant for escalation, for taking high risks, confrontational in his foreign policy approach and I think increasingly willing to test the limits of what he can get away with the United States.”
While many would see those points as positive attributes of the reformist Crown Prince, Democratic Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee echoed his concerns. They cited Prince Mohammad’s confrontations with Canada and Qatar, as well as the unconfirmed allegations that the Prince was somehow involved in kidnapping Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and in the death of Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi. Meanwhile, Prince Mohammad’s success in improving ties with Israel and purging radical clerics and terror financiers in the Kingdom went completely ignored, as Senators pushed for regime change in order to reinstate the Saudi establishment.
Fellow Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has publicly called for MBS’s removal from power, while Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is mulling sanctions, which Rubio has hinted he would support.
“The Senate will have to decide if it’s going to impose its own sanctions,” Rubio said.
Though Saudi Arabia has not always seen eye to eye with the United States, Mohammad bin Salman has thus far acquiesced to numerous demands by President Donald Trump. It is therefore clear that the U.S. interest is best served by allowing him to remain in power, instead of ousting him and returning to business as usual in the Kingdom.