Donald Trump is promoting a controversial golf tournament because it is financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund led by Mohammed Bin Salman.
The couple is smiling, white teeth matching the dress and the shirt, and ignores the controversy. On Wednesday in New York, Donald and Melania Trump made a remarkable appearance at the launch party of LIV Golf International, a golf tournament organized this weekend at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster (New Jersey) and in which he participates. A way for the former American president to reconnect with this sport he loves so much, but which has distanced itself: the PGA Tour, the circuit of professional golfers, no longer organizes events in the clubs of the Trump Organization since the invasion of the Capitol which tainted the end of the mandate of the billionaire.
Upset by this very public abandonment, Donald Trump retains a heavy resentment towards the "very disloyal" PGA Tour, of which he predicts on his Truth Social site "an inevitable FUSION with LIV" which would put in delicacy all the golfers who remained faithful to the original circuit: "If you don't take the money now, you won't have anything when the merger happens and you can only say that the early adopters were smart." Another LIV tournament will take place at the Trump Club in Doral, Florida next October, with 14 events scheduled for next year. A rise in power frowned upon by the PGA Tour: all golfers participating in a LIV tournament, "who turn their backs on what allowed them to reach this level" in the words of champion Tiger Woods, are suspended from the circuit .
Investments in the world of sport, a soft-power tool
In addition to the rivalries stoked by Donald Trump, this LIV Golf International gives off a scent of scandal because it is financed by the Saudi sovereign fund headed by Mohammed Bin Salman, the ubiquitous crown prince accused of having ordered the assassination of the critical columnist Jamal Khashoggi, killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. This is one of the prince's many investments in the world of sport, a tool of soft-power prized by Saudi Arabia in recent years.
Donald Trump's decision has also angered relatives of victims and survivors of the September 11 attacks, who denounce the role of the Saudi authorities in the attacks – fifteen of the suicide bombers were Saudis. Brett Eagleson, director of an association of victims, intends to go there on Friday and challenge the participants: “Without the support of the Saudi government given to the terrorists, September 11 would not have taken place. We want golfers to know who they are dealing with, we want to teach them and bring to light new evidence of the Saudis' role in 9/11,” he told the Washington Post.
“Former President Takes Advantage Of Those Accused Of Killing Our Loved Ones”
According to Brett Eagleson, the proximity between Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia could taint the political future of the billionaire, probably a candidate for the next presidential election: “It is doomed to failure to have a former president who takes advantage of those who are accused of having killed our loved ones”, he summarized with the New York Times. The daily recalls that the Saudi sovereign fund has also invested two billion dollars in a company managed by Jared Kushner, son-in-law and former adviser to Donald Trump, and one billion in another headed by Steven Mnuchin, secretary of the Treasury of the Trump presidency.
LIV Golf International
A professional golf tour funded by the State Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. The name LIV is a reference to the Roman numeral 54, the score if each par-72 hole were marked with birds, and the number of holes that would be played in an LIV competition. The first event of the LIV Golf Invitational series began on June 9, 2022 at the Centurion Club, near London, England.
But Donald Trump has nothing to do with these reproaches and welcomes the communication operation of the Wahhabi kingdom, which he had chosen as the first trip abroad of his presidency, strengthening the ties between the two countries: "I think that LIV is a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for Saudi Arabia's image. I think it's going to be an incredible investment from that perspective, worth way more than a lot of things you can't buy, even with billions of dollars". After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, whose order was attributed to Mohammed bin Salman by American intelligence, Donald Trump refused to distance himself from the crown prince, opposing the conclusions of his own services.