Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly postponed a planned visit to Jordan after getting the cold shoulder in Algeria, where President Abdelaziz Bouteflika scrapped a meeting with him, citing flu.
Bin Salman, who has been struggling over the past weeks to distance himself from a scandal over the gruesome murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, arrived in Algeria late Sunday for a two-day visit following a stop in Mauritania.
The trip is part of a tour of Arab countries that the Saudi crown prince has resumed after attending the G20 summit in Argentina on the weekend. He traveled to the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia before the event.
Bin Salman’s visits have been overshadowed by Khashoggi’s assassination inside Riyadh’s Istanbul consulate in early October – which is believed to have been ordered by the powerful prince – as well as the bloody war he has been leading against Yemen since early 2015.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been sidelined in the G20 summit family photo in the Argentinean capital Buenos Aires.
On Monday, the Algerian presidency said in a statement that Bouteflika had been unable to receive the visiting Saudi crown prince due to “acute flu.”
Bin Salman wished the Algerian president a speedy recovery, according to the statement carried by Algeria’s official APS news agency.
Algeria PM under fire for welcoming MbS
Meanwhile, Algeria’s largest Islamic party, the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), criticized Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia for welcoming bin Salman, saying, “Those who roll out the red carpet for bin Salman do not care about Algeria.”
MSP head Abderrazak Makri also accused Algerian politicians of being corrupted by Saudi money.
“Our rulers have destroyed the country’s economy and then bin Salman drowned them in their financial crisis by reducing oil prices in response to [US President Donald] Trump’s orders,” he said.
“They lost the Algerian dignity and manhood, so they accepted to be bribed by the killer of Yemeni children with his ill-earned dollars through the robbing of the resources of the Arabian Peninsula after the imprisonment and killing of its free citizens,” the politician added.
Additionally, Louisa Hanoune, head of Algeria’s opposition Workers’ Party, described bin Salman’s trip as a “provocation.”
Opposition newspaper Liberte further published a cartoon showing a ghost telling the Saudi crown prince, “This is Bouteflika”. The anxious prince then responds, “You frightened me. I had thought this was Khashoggi.”
Jordan visit delayed amid criticisms
In another development on Monday, sources told the Al Jazeera media network that bin Salman’s visit to Jordan had been postponed by at least two days, without elaborating on the reason behind the delay.
The crown prince was initially scheduled to arrive in Amman on Monday.
Meanwhile, a broad spectrum of Jordanian activists, political parties and journalists formed a group against the Saudi crown prince’s visit to the kingdom.
Murad Adaileh, secretary general of the Islamic Work Front, Jordan’s largest political party, said that bin Salman’s trip comes at a time when “the investigation of the death of Khashoggi is not over, and there are specific accusations that Prince Mohammed is involved in it.”
“There is also general unhappiness about the Saudi position regarding the case of Palestine, and we reject any Saudi pressure of Jordan in this regard,” Adaileh added.
Said Thiab, secretary general of the leftist al-Wihda Party, stressed that the group was opposed to Riyadh’s policies, championed by bin Salman, including the normalization of ties with Israel.
The group, he noted, was also against “what Saudis are doing in terms of massacres in Yemen, the Arab Nato which was established by Saudis, and the search for another enemy as an alternative to Israel with Iran being pictured as the enemy.”
Khashoggi’s killing was an “ugly crime” that pushed Jordanians from all walks of life to oppose bin Salman’s visit, he said.