U.S. President Joe Biden faced a firestorm of criticism Tuesday after the White House confirmed he will visit Saudi Arabia next month and is expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.\r\n\r\nConcerns have mounted in recent weeks in response to reporting during the planning stage of Biden\u0026#039;s mid-July trip, given the kingdom\u0026#039;s human rights record and the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—which U.S. intelligence officials concluded was approved by the crown prince, or MBS.\r\n\r\nNational Iranian American Council research director Assal Rad highlighted Biden\u0026#039;s own comments after the White House announced that from July 13 to July 16, the president will visit Israel, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022The Saudi regime had a Washington Post journalist murdered and dismembered in an embassy,\u0022 said Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, referring to Khashoggi.\r\n\r\n\u0022Just a few weeks ago, Israeli forces killed an American journalist in what CNN said was a targeted killing,\u0022 Jaffer added of Shireen Abu Akleh. \u0022The Biden [administration] should be sanctioning these countries, not rewarding them.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022What message is the Biden [administration] sending about press freedom if even the deliberate killing of American journalists is so quickly forgotten and forgiven?\u0022 he asked.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMatt Duss, a foreign policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), declared that \u0022the U.S.-Saudi rapprochement is premised on the idea that the security and prosperity of the American people requires consigning the people of the Middle East to a future of repression. I absolutely reject that.\u0022\r\n\r\nDuss said earlier this month that \u0022if anyone can explain to me how this reflects the administration\u0026#039;s previously stated commitment to \u0026#039;a world in which human rights are protected, their defenders are celebrated, and those who commit human rights abuses are held accountable,\u0026#039; I\u0026#039;d love to hear it.\u0022\r\n\r\nCodePink similarly said Tuesday that \u0022Saudi Arabia is one of the worst countries for journalists, women, LGBTQ+ people, and migrant workers. But sure, the Biden administration is totally concerned with human rights.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Tomorrow in D.C., we\u0026#039;ll be honoring Jamal Khashoggi, just one of the many victims of... Saudi Arabia\u0026#039;s government,\u0022 the anti-war group added. \u0022We hope Biden will honor him as well by canceling this trip.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs Common Dreams reported last week, 13 human rights groups wrote to Biden that he should not meet MBS without securing \u0022tangible progress to alleviate some of the most egregious rights violations\u0022 committed by the kingdom.\r\n\r\nDuring a call with reporters late Monday, a senior Biden official claimed that \u0022human rights is always a part of the conversation in our foreign engagements\u0022 and highlighted the administration\u0026#039;s February 2021 release of a declassified intelligence report about Khashoggi\u0026#039;s murder.\r\n\r\n\u0022I think it\u0026#039;s very important also, though, of course, to emphasize, as we did then, that while we recalibrate relations, we\u0026#039;re not seeking to rupture relations, because Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of the United States for eight decades,\u0022 the official added, specifically noting Biden\u0026#039;s stated aim to end the Saudi-led war on Yemen.\r\n\r\nDuring his trip to Jeddah, Biden is scheduled to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council—made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022The president will also hold bilateral meetings with the Saudi hosts and other counterparts\u0022 to discuss regional and global issues, including the ongoing U.N.-mediated truce in Yemen, the Biden official told reporters, confirming he is expected to meet with MBS, who \u0022played a critical role in securing the extension of the truce—that was in place since April—just last week.\u0022\r\n\r\nThough Biden last year announced an end to U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition\u0026#039;s \u0022offensive operations\u0022 in Yemen, he has been blasted for continuing to allow arms sales and maintenance.\r\n\r\nA report on the coalition\u0026#039;s assault of Yemen revealed last week that \u0022a substantial portion of the air raids were carried out by jets developed, maintained, and sold by U.S. companies, and by pilots who were trained by the U.S. military,\u0022 bolstering support for a War Powers Resolution in Congress to end \u0022unauthorized\u0022 United States involvement in the war.