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Op-Ed video: The West is rushing to rehabilitate Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi crown prince finds himself being re-embraced on the world stage, five years after the heinous killing of Jamal Khashoggi

Western leaders are rushing to re-embrace Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, nearly five years after the heinous killing of Jamal Khashoggi, argues David Hearst, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye.

Once labelled a pariah, the prince, known widely by his initials MBS, has seen a massive turnaround in his fortunes in recent years.

Spurred by geopolitical realities, the prince's position strengthened last year when western economies turned to Riyadh to help tame an oil market destabilised by the war in Ukraine.

The conflict created an opportunity for the crown prince to launch a diplomatic offensive that included high-profile summit appearances.

That effort was possible after Washington declared MBS immune from prosecution for the killing of Khashoggi, despite the crown prince being directly implicated in it by US intelligence.

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"Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the pariah prince who sent 50-man hit squads to kill dissidents in Istanbul and Toronto, has become the acceptable face of his kingdom," Hearst said.

"He's shaking hands with [French President Emmanuel] Macron, doing deals with Iran, contemplating a [normalisation] deal with Israel. The great and the good are once again beating a path to his door and the price of an audience is getting higher by the week."

David Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was the Guardian's foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.
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