Saudi ambassador to United States joins Twitter, seeks to enhance dialogue

Building ties to important U.S. business leaders, including in finance and technology, is also a primary objective of bin Salman's visit, said William Hartung, director of the arms and security project at the Center for International Policy, a USA public policy research group.

"I can't imagine that the United States will accept one day to have a militia in Mexico launching missiles on Washington D.C., NY and LA while Americans are watching these missiles and doing nothing", MBS said, defending the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen against rebels, which has escalated the humanitarian crisis there. The aim is to strengthen their bond after he rolled out the red carpet for the United States president last May in Riyadh.

Commercial ties also figure into the visit.

Since then, things have changed.

Since appearing on the world stage in 2015, the 32-year-old prince has shaken up Saudi Arabia's policy at home and overseas.

He disavowed Saudi citizen Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's founder who, the prince said, had mounted his 2001 attacks on NY and Washington to create division between the United States and the West.

Bin Salman said the rebels have launched missiles at his nation's capital, Riyadh, and that the United States wouldn't tolerate comparable attacks on its cities from, for example, Mexico.

The crown prince also has a darker, more ruthless side.

On his trip, officials said Muhammad is seeking to convince US and Western investors and businesses that far-reaching reforms, such as allowing women for the first time to drive, have made his country a more tolerant society and better place to do business. The New York Times later reported that close to a dozen of those detained were hospitalized for physical abuse and one died in custody. Others were stripped of their wealth without due process.

His uncompromising foreign policy is delivered with confidence.

But the kingdom has witnessed a cautious new climate of social freedoms with the rise of the 32-year-old crown prince to power after decades of elderly rulers.

Meanwhile, Hashemi said the removal of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state last week, and rumours reported in U.S. media that the president is planning to fire ex-army general HR McMaster, his national security adviser, were "deeply concerning".

Yemen loomed large on his trip this month to the UK. The US official saw "a tremendous opportunity" for the committee, and stressed the need to hold Iran's Revolutionary Guard Force accountable for facilitating attacks against both Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, he told reporters. "Do Not Welcome Killers" was written next to a picture of Prince Mohammed. The senior official said that Trump and the crown prince will also talk about "Russia's role in supporting the atrocities of the Assad regime in Syria". There were movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. "The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law".

The country in recent months has relaxed prohibitive rules which included women being forbidden from driving and from watching all-men sporting events at stadiums. Officials described the stop in Washington as more of a courtesy call before he embarks on a tour that includes meetings with American leaders in energy, technology and cinema. On an interview that aired Sunday on "60 Minutes," Salman compared Iran's supreme leader to Adolf Hitler, saying that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time". "We certainly do. But naturally, we are working to mend these shortcomings". "This is just the beginning".

MBS expects to reshape Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Critics have labeled the crown prince's campaign a shakedown and power grab, although authorities insist the purge targeted endemic corruption as the country prepares for a post-oil era.

Saudi Arabia only started to cut shipments into the U.S.in the second half of past year, so the annual average didn't reflect fully the drop.

  • Leroy Wright