Saudi Crown Prince’s ‘naughty school boy’ treatment at G20
The question of how the Saudi crown prince would be treated at the G20 has been answered in almost every conceivable way.
The usually inscrutable Russian president kicked off with an emphatic bro-shake. Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) both accused of ordering killings of journalists – both delighted to be in each other’s company.
Less warm was the MBS encounter with Theresa May.
Downing Street says the prime minister stressed the importance of ensuring those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi are held to account. A pretty toothless response when the CIA-backed consensus lays the blame squarely at the crown prince’s feet.
Causing more of a stir is a sidelines encounter with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Speaking in hushed tones, Mr Macron can be heard saying: “You never listen to me.”
The crown prince replies: “I will listen of course.”
Mr Macron had promised to be firm with MBS – the tone of the exchange felt more like friendly coaching.
Donald Trump went for a cursory nod to the Saudi leader – opting for a less intimate approach although he has made it clear he’s ready to move on from Mr Khashoggi’s murder. The White House said Mr Trump has “exchanged pleasantries” with the crown prince.
Overall – the pariah has been treated like more of a naughty school boy who now has the chance to learn from his mistakes. Business interests will almost always triumph.
The glamour of the Friday evening soirée is a brief distraction what from what Mr Trump is facing at home. The Russia investigation has placed the president as a major subject of interest. The Washington Post says Robert Mueller’s probe now refers to the president as “Individual 1”.
On Saturday he’s set to give a news conference where that issue will dominate. Then comes his final most important meeting with President Xi of China – where there’s some hope of a de-escalation in the ongoing trade war.
Riot police are braced for trouble as Argentinians take to the streets to have their say about this meeting of the world’s wealthiest nations.
So far anti-capitalist protests have been peaceful but water canon and tear gas will be poised until leaders leave town.
Passion on the streets reflects heated times. This G20 marks a difficult moment for international cooperation – as old loyalties are tested and unity is fading.