By Arab News
The arrival in Washington of Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed Ambassador Prince Khaled bin Salman is expected to usher in a new era in bilateral ties.
Prince Khaled, whose name was announced on April 22, will contribute to strengthening Saudi-US relations.
This was evident in his prominence during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May, and in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting with the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) in Jeddah last week.
Marcelle M. Wahba, former US ambassador to the UAE and president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told Arab News: “The biggest challenge for Prince Khaled will be broadening the Kingdom’s image beyond the narrow perspective of energy, counterterrorism and military sales. That means the economic, public affairs and cultural affairs departments at the embassy should be strengthened and empowered to engage widely with the Washington policy community and American audiences outside of the beltway.”
Former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chaz Freeman, told Arab News that Prince Khaled should “develop relationships not only with the White House and key executive departments and agencies, but with the House and Senate, which have the power to block executive decisions with which they disagree. He’ll also have to court the media, which is for the most part unsympathetic to Saudi Arabia, ignorant about it and skeptical, not to say hostile to Islam.”
Gerald M. Feierstein, former US ambassador and director of Gulf studies at the Middle East Institute, said: “The main challenge for Prince Khaled will be re-establishing a strong Saudi presence in Washington and re-engaging with key policymakers, especially in Congress, and with the press and the broader community.”
A decorated fighter pilot who flew missions against the terrorist group Daesh in Syria — earning the nickname “Eagle Eye” — Prince Khaled’s youth is expected to reinvigorate relations with Washington.
At the same time, he brings the invaluable professional experience he gained as a senior adviser to the Saudi Defense Ministry.
In addition, Prince Khaled has impressive academic credentials, having studied international relations at Georgetown University.