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Is the announcement of the new United States ambassador, Princess Reema bin Bandar al Saud, a smokescreen?
Last February 23 was a historic day for Saudi Arabia: for the first time, a woman was appointed as ambassador. It was the princess Reema bin Bandar Al Saud, who will become the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States. The appointment took place in the framework of the Arab League-European Union summit, in which the prince, Mohamed bin Salman, took advantage of the situation to make the announcement, as stated by El Confidencial.
It is important to remember that Mohamed bin Salman has allowed female participation in different aspects within his country, such as accepting women to drive, attending stadiums without any restrictions and being more active in the labor field.
With the princess arrival, the former ambassador, Khaled bin Salman, will become the vice president within the Ministry of Defense. Similarly, according to El Clarín, Jaled had contact with the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, "who consulted him in search of guarantees for his visit to the consulate in Istanbul, where he was murdered".
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A family tradition
Reema, 43, will not be the first in her family to take the job, since she is the daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan al Saud, who held the position from 1985 to 2005, when he resigned due to health problems, according to NBC.
In addition to being prepared for the position, Princess Reema graduated in museology from an American university and, in October 2017, became the first woman to lead a Saudi multi-sport federation, covering sports activities for men and women, according to Arab News.
The previous information has not been her only role in front of important businesses, as El Clarín affirms, because the princess also owns her own brand of bags, called Baraboux. At the same time, she stands out for involving the role of women in the labor market and for being in charge of important initiatives such as "the inclusion in schools of Physical Education for girls or the planning of the Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia", according to the same journal.
A smoke screen?
It can not be denied that the appointment could generate some surprise. Even so, for several analysts, the situation has a much deeper background than one might think.
On the one hand, this decision may help to form an idea that the current president advocates for reforms and the inclusion of women in positions and scenarios where before they were denied participation. This is linked to the 2030 Saudi plan, which aims to reduce oil dependence by diversifying the country's economy through different sectors, including tourism. With the small steps that have been taken regarding the rights of women, and with the appointment of the princess, it is not illogical to think that Mohamed bin Salman wants to make the country more attractive, as a "friendly" country for women.
On the other hand, one can not help but remember what happened with the Saudi journalist and critic of the monarchy, Jamal Khashoggi, who collaborated with the American newspaper The Washington Post and who disappeared in October 2018. Khashoggi entered his country's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, but never left. It is claimed that he was killed on the spot by people close to the Prince. Despite the denials, several US lawmakers "have made a long campaign for the investigation to reach more accurate conclusions," according to the BBC.
The arrival of the princess would be a smokescreen to try to dispel the rumors about what happened to Khashoggi, coupled with criticism of how the war in Yemen has been handled, the detention of human rights activists, the diplomatic crisis of Qatar, among others; even international organizations like Human Rights have accused his government of the violation of human rights.
LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz
Translated from "Mérito o táctica: la llegada de la primera embajadora de Arabia Saudita"