“The picture of the fist-bump is going to haunt President Biden for years”

Back in 2019, then-candidate Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a “pariah” after the murder of Washignton Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Upon now-President Biden’s arrival in the country on his first Presidential trip to the Middle East, the first exchange between the two leaders was a fist-bump. Hagar Chemali, former spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, explains why this trip did not meet U.S. expectations. “You have to put yourself in the shoes of Middle Eastern leaders,” says Chemali. A photo with the U.S. President “weighs heavily” on public perception of their power. “We don’t yield that leverage strongly enough when it comes to the Middle East,” says Chemali, “and that can seep into other issues.”