US Sen. Lindsey Graham U-Turns On Saudi Arabia, Praises ‘Transformative’ Reforms After Visit To Kingdom


US Sen. Lindsey Graham has praised Saudi Arabia after concluding a trip to the Kingdom, in a U-turn on his previous criticism of its Vision 2030 reform agenda.

The Republican South Carolina senator had been a vocal critic of the Kingdom after the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, and previously vowed never to set foot in or do business with Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to ABC’s “This Week” host Jonathan Karl on Sunday, Graham said he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmanduring his visit, and admitted that a lot had changed since then.

“Well, a couple things happened. Number one: I’ve been talking with the Biden administration about working with Saudi Arabia to build on the reforms they’re doing in their country and to build on the Abraham Accords,” Graham said.

“If you get nothing else out of this interview, things in Saudi Arabia are changing very quickly for the better.

“I see a chance to normalize the relationship between the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel that would be transformative for the region.”

Under the US-brokered accords, overseen by then-President Donald Trump in 2020, Israel normalized relations with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

In the interview, Graham also expressed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia for its $36 billion purchase of 787 Boeing jets made in Charleston, South Carolina, his home state.

“They picked the Boeing 787 over the Airbus. I came over here to say thanks to Saudi Arabia. They’re thinking about buying more jets,” he told Karl.

Graham was full of praise for the Kingdom’s reform agenda and the role its leadership is playing in transforming the country.

“Vision 2030 of the crown prince is real,” he said. “Women can drive for the first time in modern Saudi history. Women can go out to dinner without a male escort.”

He added that the crown prince’s “vision for the country economically is transformative; $1 trillion is going to be spent to modernize Saudi Arabia. I’d like to be part of that transition.”

Graham said what he saw during his visit this week was “game-changing,” and he wants to build on the progress in Saudi Arabia while having an “honest and candid relationship” with the Kingdom.

“The ability to work with Saudi Arabia is at an all-time high. If we could normalize (the) relationship with Saudi Arabia and then with Israel, build upon the Abraham Accords, it would be the biggest change in my lifetime,” he said.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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