From US Partner To Pariah And Back: Saudi Prince Salman's Journey

Four years since journalist Jamal Kashoggi's murder, Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman is no longer a global pariah.

From US Partner To Pariah And Back: Saudi Prince Salman's Journey

JOunralist Jamal Kashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Paris:

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, once hailed as a reformer, became a global pariah in 2018 after the gruesome murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Four years later he is being rehabilitated, with Greece and France welcoming him this week on his first visit to the West since the Khashoggi affair, less than two weeks after he received a reconciliatory visit -- and fist bump -- from US President Joe Biden.

Here is a rundown of key events since he became Saudi's de facto ruler.

Crown prince at 31

On June 21, 2017, King Salman names his then 31-year-old son Mohammed as crown prince, capping the meteoric rise of the ambitious defence minister.

It comes amid a major fallout with Qatar, which Riyadh accuses of supporting terrorism and being too close to Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran.

Royal purge

In November 2017, around 380 royals, senior officials and business tycoons are arrested in a dramatic purge presented as an anti-corruption drive.

Many are held for weeks in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Most are released after agreeing significant financial settlements.

Women allowed to drive

In September 2017, the monarchy ends the world's only ban on female drivers by announcing that they will be able to take the wheel from June 2018.

Cinemas are also reopened, music concerts are organised with mixed-gender audiences permitted, and women are allowed into sports stadiums.

The enthusiasm generated by the announcements is somewhat dampened by the repression of female activists who had campaigned for the right to drive.

Lebanon crisis

In November 2017, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri announces in a televised address from Riyadh that he is resigning, citing Iran's "grip" on his country.

Saudi Arabia is accused of forcing his hand to try to weaken the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement that shares power in Lebanon.

After France intervenes, Hariri returns to Lebanon and calls off his resignation.

Yemen war

Riyadh enters the war in Yemen in 2015 at the head of an Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognised government against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The Saudi-led bombing campaign escalates the conflict, turning it into a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran, which produces the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Lunch with the queen

In March 2018, the prince embarks on his first foreign tour as heir, visiting Egypt and Britain, where he lunches with Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince Mohammed then spends more than two weeks in the United States, meeting President Donald Trump and visiting tech leaders in Silicon Valley. He also goes to France and Spain.

Khashoggi murder

On October 2, 2018, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is murdered and dismembered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate, triggering global outcry.

Prince Mohammed denies ordering the killing. The government blames rogue security officials.

A Saudi court condemns five people to death over the killing but they are later given jail terms instead.

The affair turns the crown prince into a pariah in the West, with a UN rapporteur and the CIA both linking him to the killing.

Talks with Iran

In April 2021, Prince Mohammed causes surprise by declaring that he wants to have "good relations" with Iran. Over the following year, the two arch-foes conduct five rounds of talks in Iraq, leading to speculation they could resume diplomatic ties.

Yemen truce

Yemen's Huthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition agree to a two-month truce in April 2022 which they renew in June.

As Riyadh looks for a way to exit the war, Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi announces that he is handing power to a new council that will conduct peace talks with the Huthis.

Pariah no more

On July 15, US President Joe Biden visits Saudi Arabia on a mission to try to increase global oil supplies. He greets the crown prince with a fist bump, sealing the Saudi leader's return to the international fold.

The image draws sharp criticism from rights groups, with Khashoggi's bereaved fiancee accusing Biden of having blood on his hands.

On Wednesday, Prince Mohammed arrived in Paris from Greece on his first trip to Europe since Khashoggi's death. He will meet President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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