Trump's bizarre obeisance to Saudi Arabia

The president's Mideast policy seems to be little more than Tehran is bad, Riyadh is good, and Jared should deal with it

Then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets President Trump in May 2017.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

One of the least talked about but most important stories of the year is unfolding right now in the Middle East. An emboldened and seemingly power-drunk Saudi Arabia is haphazardly throwing its weight around, both at home and in Lebanon and Yemen, ratcheting up tensions with Iran and seemingly doing so with the blessing of the Trump administration.

Earlier this month, one of the country's crown princes — Mohammed bin Salman, known by the cool kids in D.C. as MBS — arrested a slew of family, political, and military rivals and had them imprisoned in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. Their fate remains unknown, but the sweep has been so comprehensive that they are quartering new detainees in the nearby Courtyard By Marriott too — pity the more recently arrested. MBS is pulling a classic, new-in-town hereditary dictator move, trying to convince his Beltway patrons that he's just a young reformer trying to drag his country kicking and screaming into modernity. But that's not what's actually happening.

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