First Saudi female ambassador appointed in Washington amid weak ties over Khashoggi murder

Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud

By Sohaila Barghash

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, a daughter of the kingdom’s longtime ambassador to Washington, Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, replaced Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, son of king Salman, who was appointed instead as deputy defense minister.

The new ambassador is assigned during a critical time, and therefore faces great challenges in improving ties between the Two countries.

She is observed as many await her statement on several issues, precisely the Khashoggi killing, especially that the former ambassador claimed the Washington Post columnist left the consulate in Istanbul after he finished the paper work, a statement that was perceived by many as unrealistic and ignorant.

As most American officials now believe, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi inside the diplomatic post.

Additionally in November the Washington Post reported that US intelligence agencies reviewed a phone call between Prince Khalid and Khashoggi, in which he assured the journalist of his safety going to the consulate in order to obtain the documents he needed to get married.

However, the Saudi Embassy in Washington denied the call, and the newspaper did not publish the name of the source, yet stated that it was unclear whether the ambassador knew of the murder.

Princess Reema, lived and studied in America during her father’s serving period of over 20 years as Saudi’s ambassador.

After her appointment, the princess wrote on Twitter, “I will work with God’s permission to serve my country, its leaders and all its children and I will spare no effort to that end.”

Her appointment comes under king Salman and his son the Crown Prince Mohammed, who allowed women to drive last year, yet also arrested women’s rights activists as part of a wider crackdown on any perceived dissent in the kingdom.

Prince Khalid’s appointment as deputy defense minister comes as Saudi Arabia remains involved in the war in Yemen, which has also contributed to deteriorating relations with American.

In a tweet, Prince Khalid wrote, “I ask God to help me achieve the vision of our leadership and serve the men I know who are faithful to their religion and homeland.”

US lawmakers are increasingly pushing to withdraw American support for the kingdom, which is directly used to attack the Gulf’s poorest country, Yemen, killing many civilians.

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