Saudi ruler MBS calls the murder of Jamal Khashoggi – which the CIA say he approved – a ‘mistake’, and warns his nation will build a nuclear arsenal if Iran does
Mohammed bin Salman has admitted ‘mistakes’ in the murder of US-based journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi.
In a broad format interview with Fox News, the 38-year-old controversial crown prince said he was reforming the kingdom’s security system to prevent such “mistakes” in the future.
‘It was a mistake. It was painful,” the crown prince said, insisting that “all those involved” should serve prison time.
“We are trying to reform the security system to make sure these kinds of mistakes don’t happen again, and we can see that nothing like that has happened in the last five years. It’s not part of what Saudi Arabia does.
“We are taking all the legal measures that any country has taken… We did that in Saudi Arabia and the case was closed,” MbS said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and was critical of the Saudi government, was brutally murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018, in a case that sparked international outrage.
Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the killing while campaigning for president in 2020, after multiple international intelligence agencies pointed to MbS’s involvement in the killing.
But he has since bowed to that reality and repaired relations with the crown prince while seeking his help in controlling oil prices and managing other regional issues.
In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News, the controversial crown prince also admitted “mistakes” in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and warned that his country will acquire nuclear weapons if Iran does so.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and was critical of the Saudi government, was brutally murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018, in a case that sparked international outrage
Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the killing as he campaigned for president in 2020, but walked back the comments and has since worked to improve relations (Mohammed bin Salman, right, welcomes the U.S. President Joe Biden at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022)
MbS was also questioned about the possibility that Iran would eventually create a nuclear weapon, and he confirmed that if Iran started building an arsenal, Saudi Arabia would try to do the same. (Pictured: an alleged Iranian military bunker)
The Biden administration released a declassified US intelligence report concluding that MbS “approved” the operation that killed Khashoggi – but took no action against the crown prince himself.
MbS was also questioned about the possibility that Iran would eventually create a nuclear weapon, and he confirmed that if Iran started building an arsenal, Saudi Arabia would try to do the same.
“We worry if a country gets a nuclear weapon, that’s a bad move, that’s a bad move,” he said. “They don’t need a nuclear weapon because you can’t use it.”
When asked how he would react if Iran obtained a nuclear bomb, he said: “If they get one, we should get one too.”
That worries nuclear non-proliferation experts, who say that if the US gave the kingdom the ability to enrich uranium itself, a regional arms race could arise.
During the interview with Baier, MbS also said he doesn’t see a problem with a Saudi Arabian wealth fund that injects $2 billion into Jared Kushner’s private equity – despite his family ties to former President Donald Trump.
Six months after Trump left the White House in 2020, his son-in-law and former senior adviser Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), led by MbS.
Asked whether this would create a conflict of interest – and whether the royal family would demand the money if Donald Trump were re-elected – MbS said: “If it’s legal, what’s the problem?”
“We are looking for investment opportunities,” he said. “We have a lot of investments around the world with a lot of people with economic opportunity.”
When asked whether the $2 billion would remain with Kushner even if Trump becomes president again, MbS replied in the affirmative.
“It is a promise that PIF has and if PIF has a promise with any investor in the world, then we will stick to it,” he said.
When asked if he recognized that this could create a conflict of interest, he said: “Saudi Arabia is so big, so I’m pretty sure almost everyone in the world has something to do with Saudi Arabia, directly or indirectly.
“So if that can influence President Trump’s decision if he becomes president, that means it can influence every president in the world and every person in the world’s decision.
“Because they have some direct or indirect interest in something related to Saudi Arabia.”
The Biden administration has released a declassified US intelligence report concluding that MbS ‘approved’ the operation that killed Khashoggi (pictured) – but took no action against the crown prince himself
Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman has said he sees no problem with his wealth fund injecting $2 billion into Jared Kushner’s fledgling private equity capital, despite ties to former President Donald Trump. (Image: MbS with Kushner and wife Ivanka Trump in 2017)
Six months after Trump left the White House in 2020, his son-in-law and former senior adviser Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), led by MbS. (Image: MbS with Trump and Kushner in 2017)
The other major topic on the agenda was Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve bilateral relations with Israel.
Saudi Arabia is discussing a major deal with the United States to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for a U.S. defense pact and help developing its own civilian nuclear program.
But the Saudis have said any deal would require major progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state, a tough sell for the most religious and nationalist government in Israel’s history.
‘For us the Palestinian issue is very important. We have to solve that part,” MbS told Baer.
“We have to see where we’re going,” said the prince. “We hope that this will reach a point where it will make life easier for the Palestinians and get Israel as a player in the Middle East.”
He also denied reports that talks had been suspended, saying: “Every day we get closer.”
The interview aired shortly after President Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while both were in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting.
Biden expressed concern about the treatment of Palestinians by the far-right Israeli government and urged Netanyahu to take steps to improve conditions in the West Bank at a time of rising violence in the occupied territory.
Netanyahu’s office said the meeting was “mainly about ways to broker a historic peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could significantly advance an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the establishment of an economic corridor could facilitate that would connect Asia, the Middle East and the Middle East. Europe.’
Asked during the interview about working with someone as conservative as Netanyahu, Prince Mohammed said: “If we have a breakthrough, reach a deal that gives the Palestinians their needs and calms the region, we have to work with whoever is there.” . .