Last weekend, both schools were stops on his US tour – attempting to burnish his rogue image, make Saudi despotism look benign, along with courting investors from Wall Street to Big Oil to Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
Nary a mention of aggression in Yemen was made during his visit, a taboo topic, Washington and Britain up to their ears in raping and destroying the country, conspiratorially responsible with Riyadh for the world’s severest humanitarian crisis – out of sight and mind during his tour.
Billions of dollars in US and UK weapons sales to the kingdom matter more, along with wanting access to its oil reserves and Saudi investments in America and Britain.
According to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper, heavily armed security personnel, an armored vehicle, 30 security vehicles and 10 motorcycles accompanied Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) during his visit.
He participated in discussions with university professors and presidents of Boston area college presidents.
According to Harvard’s vice provost of international affairs Mark Elliot, he expressed interest “in the connection between research, entrepreneurship and innovation, and how they fit together to fuel the economy.”
On arrival, Harvard provost Alan Garber greeted MBS, not university president Drew Faust – because of a prior commitment, according to university spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga.
Or did pangs of conscience keep her away? Was she reluctant to be part of a photo-op with MBS, tarnishing her image more than already?
According to the Crimson, university officials didn’t publicize MBS’ visit, despite shamefully inviting him on campus.
No public events were scheduled – nor at MIT, both Cambridge campuses about a mile from each other.
MIT’s student newspaper The Tech commented on his visit, saying it was “in conjunction with the second annual Innovation to Impact forum” on campus.
According to director of media relations and deputy director of MIT News Kimberly Allen, “Saudi Arabia and MIT have a longstanding collaborative relationship focused on subjects of mutual interest,” adding:
“Saudi Aramco is a founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative.”
A Saudi prince earlier donated $40 million dollars to Harvard and Georgetown universities, the amount divided equally between them.
Saudi entrepreneurial billionaire Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel earlier donated $43 million to MIT. Saudis have contributed large sums to other US universities, including Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley and Stanford.
AT MIT, MBS met with university president L. Rafael Reif among others. Heavy security during his visit to both schools disrupted things for students, faculty and city residents.
According to The Tech, “numerous security details patroll(ed) the area over the course of the afternoon.”
“This included a combination of MIT police, (heavily armed) Cambridge police, secret service agents…several black-clothed persons,” and Saudi security.
Ahead of his arrival at Harvard and MIT, dozens of Massachusetts Peace Action members protested his visit – a March 23 commentary saying:
“Should the architect of a devastating humanitarian crisis in a poor country be given a welcome at two of America’s most prestigious universities? Most certainly not.”
University relationships with the kingdom “should end…MIT and Harvard should cancel any invitation they have extended to Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and for MIT to cease its cooperation in the Saudi defense and tech sectors until Saudi Arabia has withdrawn from Yemen, helped to reconstruct the country, and reformed its own institutions and policies.”
Northeastern University Professor of Sociology Valentine Moghadam wrote the above remarks.
She’s a member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as a Massachusetts Peace Action board member.
Harvard Graduate School of Education student Shireen al-Adeimi said the following:
“The crown prince has committed countless war crimes that have been documented by human rights groups, and so I think it’s an embarrassment for (Harvard and) MIT to be associated with him, and to welcome him here this weekend – on the third anniversary…of the (Yemen) war.”
A Yemeni national, Adeimi added: “We have people back home, friends and family, who can’t find adequate food, who can’t find clean water.”
“It’s getting harder and harder for people to survive every day. Already people are dying in the tens of thousands.”
Shamefully, both universities invited him on campus – a thuggish future leader of the Arab world’s most ruthless state.