Two men shake handsJoel Rosenberg, a Christian Zionist and US-Israeli dual citizen, meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Jeddah on 10 September. (A. Larry Ross)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman hosted a delegation of Christian evangelicals and pro-Israel American figures in Jeddah this week.
The delegation was headed by Joel C. Rosenberg, a Christian Zionist and a dual citizen of Israel and the US.
The visit came on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which the delegation said was no coincidence.
“While it may surprise some that we would choose the week of 11 September to visit the kingdom, we actually feel there is no more appropriate time to focus on where the kingdom must go, can go and where we believe it is going,” the delegation stated.
During the visit, Rosenberg lamented that only two US officials visited the monarchy this year, urging more congressional trips.
Following the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October, the monarchy fell into a public relations crisis.
Even those who had been feting the crown prince as a “reformer” have kept their distance from an autocrat widely seen as directly involved in the plot to kill Khashoggi.
Two US senators reportedly confronted the crown prince over Khashoggi’s killing during a visit last weekend.
But Rosenberg’s affection for the absolute monarchy is undimmed.
“Saudi Arabia is one of America’s most important strategic allies in the war against radical Islamist terrorism and in countering the rising Iranian threat,” the delegation stated.
Rosenberg has been peddling his anti-Iran stance among elite evangelicals and calling for military action against Tehran for more than a decade.
The delegation reportedly discussed the crown prince’s “Saudi Vision 2030” reform plan and paid a visit to NEOM, a supposedly state-of-the-art city the Saudi government is trying to build on its Red Sea coast:
This is Rosenberg’s second visit to Saudi Arabia within a year, at least.
He headed a similar delegation to Saudi Arabia to meet the crown prince last November.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also hosted a delegation led by Rosenberg in the United Arab Emirates last October:
That delegation also met with King Abdullah II of Jordan as well as Egyptian ruler Abdulfattah al-Sisi during the same period:
This burgeoning friendship between American Christian evangelicals and certain Gulf states is based on common interests of warming up to Israel, warmongering against Iran and whitewashing the Saudi monarchy’s image as moving towards “moderation” and “reform.”
During Rosenberg’s last visit, the crown prince reportedly told his evangelical interlocutors that his “enemies are exploiting” the Khashoggi killing “to the fullest.”
A tradition of normalization
This week’s visit was organized by Saudi ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.
Reema is the daughter of Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, a former intelligence chief who previously spent decades as the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
The new Saudi ambassador appears to be carrying the torch of her father’s covert normalization efforts when he held office.
Prince Bandar met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and longtime Mossad chief Meir Dagan in Jordan following Israel’s assault on Lebanon in 2006.
During Israel’s July 2006 war on Lebanon, Saudi Arabia conveyed secret messages of support to Israel and urged it to strike at Hizballah with all its might.