Discord Leaks: Saudi Leader MBS Promised ‘Major Economic Consequences’ for Biden Threats

US President Joe Biden (L) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) arrive for the f

The Washington Post on Thursday said it was in possession of a purportedly classified document, among the many such items exposed in a trove shared on the video game social network Discord, that captured Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) expressing his extreme frustration with the Biden administration and vowing “major economic consequences for Washington.”

The FBI arrested a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Jack Teixeira, in April in relation to the documents surfacing on Discord. Teixeira allegedly obtained a number of sensitive, and sometimes explosive, classified documents and shared them on Discord, apparently to impress other members of his video game discussion group. Teixeira was arrested about a month after some of his Discord buddies began tossing his classified documents around to impress people in other forums, drawing unwelcome media attention.

Few of the documents have been either confirmed in their authenticity or disputed beyond a reasonable doubt. Some have proven embarrassing to the U.S. and other governments.

The Washington Post said it has been sitting on “scores” of “secret documents” that have not yet been made public, so the Discord Leak saga is still in progress after three months. If the latest Discord Leak story is accurate, there might be some fallout in Washington and Riyadh.

As the Washington Post disclosed partway through its story on Thursday, the paper has a grievance against MBS and his government because Saudi agents murdered Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The Washington Post clearly feels that neither the Trump nor Biden administrations have done enough to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi’s death.

President Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to make Saudi Arabia an international “pariah” for the killing of Khashoggi, but quickly moderated his tone when rising gas prices and plummeting approval ratings obliged him to beg for Saudi oil. Most of the press appeared unwilling to hammer the Democrat administration for backing away from its tough campaign language, so the Khashoggi issue faded into the background.

“Eight months later, Biden has yet to impose consequences on the Arab country and Mohammed has continued to engage with top U.S. officials, as he did with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the seaside Saudi city of Jiddah this week,” the Washington Post complained.

For his part, MBS has always insisted he did not order the killing and knew nothing about it. He has expressed outrage that his denials are not taken seriously enough. According to the Discord Leak document reviewed by the Washington Post, MBS was also exasperated with the Biden administration threatening to impose “consequences” on Saudi Arabia for cutting oil production and driving up prices at a time when high gas prices were bringing Biden’s approval numbers down:

In public, the Saudi government defended its actions politely via diplomatic statements. But in private, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman threatened to fundamentally alter the decades-old U.S.-Saudi relationship and impose significant economic costs on the United States if it retaliated against the oil cuts, according to a classified document obtained by The Washington Post.

The crown prince claimed “he will not deal with the U.S. administration anymore,” the document says, promising “major economic consequences for Washington.”

The Washington Post was vague about exactly how this intelligence was rendered, saying it was “unclear whether the crown prince’s threat was conveyed directly to U.S. officials or intercepted through electronic eavesdropping.” Some of the previous Discord Leaks were purportedly transcripts of conversations overheard by eavesdropping or wiretapping. 

An unnamed spokesperson for the White House National Security Council (NSC) did not dispute the accuracy of the latest Discord leak but did suggest it might have been taken out of context.

“We are not aware of such threats by Saudi Arabia,” the spokesperson said.

“In general, such documents often represent only one snapshot of a moment in time and cannot possibly offer the full picture,” the official added.

The NSC spokesperson said the Biden administration “continues to collaborate with Saudi Arabia” as “an important partner in the region,” a rapport the Washington Post said has “disappointed human rights advocates” who wanted sharper criticism of Khashoggi’s murder and Saudi involvement in the Yemeni civil war.   

“The Biden administration decided it had to figure out how to work with MBS even if Biden and he still do not talk to each other,” suggested Wilson Center scholar David Ottaway.

The Washington Post said it reached out to the Saudi embassy in Washington for comment on the Discord Leaks story, but did not receive a reply.


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