Published: Mon, February 25, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Saudi Arabia taps princess as new envoy to United States amid Khashoggi fallout

Saudi Arabia taps princess as new envoy to United States amid Khashoggi fallout

Princess Rima bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia's first woman ambassador, is a social campaigner on the front line of government efforts to boost the kingdom's battered global reputation despite never having worked as a diplomat. However, investigators later discovered that Khashoggi had been murdered.

Princess Reema, a George Washington University graduate, is the daughter of Bandar bin Sultan, a flamboyant and influential former ambassador to the United States who acquired the controversial nickname "Bandar Bush" for his closeness with the Bush family.

Reema has worked for Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority and as the chief executive of Alfa International, a luxury retail company.

In addition to representing the new possibilities now available for Saudi women, Princess Reema is the daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a towering figure in Saudi diplomacy who served as the kingdom's ambassador to the U.S. from 1983 to 2005.

Princess Reema's appointment comes as relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia are particularly strained following the killing in October, by Saudi agents, of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.

Saudi Arabia appointed a princess as its new ambassador to the United States, the first time the kingdom had named a woman to such a post.

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Saudi Arabia denies that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had any involvement in his death - a claim the U.S. intelligence community has cast doubt on.

Princess Rima, the daughter of a former long-time ambassador to the USA, has been a leading advocate of female empowerment in the kingdom, which has faced intense criticism over the recent jailing of women activists - and subsequent claims of sexual abuse and torture of some of them in detention.

"A graduate of George Washington University in Washington, DC, she has been active in the public and private sectors of Saudi Arabia, working toward women's empowerment", Al Arabiya reported.

This is another step in the right direction for Saudi Arabia.

Prince Khalid returns to Riyadh as a deputy defence minister. Despite the Central Intelligence Agency finding and the pushback from Congress, President Trump has steadfastly defended Mohammed, Saudi Arabia's day-to-day ruler, insisting that human rights concerns should not override the strategic partnership between Washington and Riyadh, which includes shared antipathy toward Iran, or threaten American jobs that depend on Saudi purchases of USA weaponry. Only recently were women allowed to drive. Khalid, a younger brother of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was accused of helping to cover up the murder.

His naming comes as Saudi Arabia remains mired in its years-long war in Yemen, which also have strained U.S. relations to the kingdom. We'll see how far she gets in mending a frayed relationship between the USA and Saudi Arabia.

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