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Dozens of Top U.S. Officials Swarm Saudi Arabia to Hail the New King

Peter Z. Scheer
Managing Editor
Peter Scheer grew up in the newspaper business, spending family vacations with his mother at newspaper editors\' conferences, enjoying daycare in editorial departments and begrudgingly reviewing his father\'s…
Peter Z. Scheer

President Obama strolls in 2010 with the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. White House/Pete Souza

President Barack Obama cut short his trip to India, where he lectured the locals on women’s rights, to personally express his warm wishes to the new monarch of Saudi Arabia, a country where women are not allowed to drive and where women and men are beheaded for crimes including sorcery.

In fact, just five days after assuming power, King Salman oversaw his first beheading.

Saudi Arabia is the world champ in this activity. They love a good beheading there. But don’t expect a lecture on human rights from President Obama. “Sometimes we need to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns we have in terms of counter-terrorism or dealing with regional stability,” he told CNN. Right. We have to worry about the Islamic State. Those are the bad beheaders.

According to The Guardian, Obama was joined in the capital Riyadh by quite a collection of U.S. dignitaries, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan, Sen. John McCain, U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Lloyd Austin, former Secretaries of State James Baker and Condoleezza Rice, and former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger. The Geico Gecko couldn’t make it, but he sent his well wishes.

Seriously, though, that’s an impressive contingent. Clearly nothing can summon Washingtonians like the death of a Saudi monarch.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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