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Daily News Analysis

Embracing MbS: What it means for the west’s soft power

Crescent International

On September 24, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) once again showed that the entire human rights bravado of western regimes is merely a public relations tool.

While many people immediately think of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder when MbS and the Saudi regime are mentioned, it should be remembered that the regime did not become murderous only after the ascension to power of the upstart crown prince.

The Saudi regime was always brutal, totalitarian, and primitive.

It has been propped up and kept in power through Western support.

Taking into account global geopolitical and economic developments, Scholtz’s visit to GCC regimes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia is a sign of desperation.

While it is understandable from a strictly realpolitik perspective, as western Europe is in dire need of energy products, the blatant embrace of MbS is the last nail in the coffin of western soft power.

Scholtz’s visit shows that the EU and its governing elites no longer have a unique value proposition.

For decades the western propaganda machine did not tire of repeating that their conduct of international politics is different from other influential state entities.

This, they claimed, was because they hold the concept of human rights as a fundamental pillar of their policy on the global stage.

Prior to China’s rise as an economic giant, western regimes claimed that economic prosperity was possible only if a country was in their orbit of influence and followed their paradigm.

Beijing challenged this western assertion.

With China’s emergence as a major economic player, NATO regimes shifted their narrative to emphasizing human rights and freedoms as the main variables, which they claimed, only they offered.

This narrative was overemphasized, especially during China’s draconian COVID restrictions and the economic decline of western countries.

As European regimes could no longer claim to hold economic supremacy, the narrative of human rights became their main talking point.

Were it not for the blatant despotism of the Saudi regime, western regimes could still have played the human rights card in the near future.

It is, however, difficult to push the human rights narrative when one of your long-time most strategic allies is a regime which embodies despotism so totally.

It is now becoming evident even to proponents of western hegemony that the US and its surrogates are losing their global hegemony.

Evidence for this emerging reality is only partly rooted in economic and geopolitical explanations.

Overall, the west is losing global hegemony because it can no longer offer anything substantial or convincing in the war of ideas to the rest of the world.

The clearest sign of this was the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

By propping up the Saudi regime and trying to lessen the negative effects of escalating economic and energy crises, the west might buy some time, but in the broader sense it is setting itself up for another crucial soft power loss.

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