Mohammed bin Salman has admitted ‘mistakes’ over the killing of US-based journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi.
In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News, the 38-year-old controversial Crown Prince said he was reforming the kingdom’s security system to avoid such ‘mistakes’ in the future.
‘It was a mistake. It was painful,’ the crown prince said, while insisting that ‘everyone involved’ served jail time.
‘We try to reform the security system to be sure that these kind of mistakes doesn’t happen again, and we can see in the past five years nothing of those things happened. It’s not part of what Saudi Arabia do.
‘We take all the legal measurements that any country took… We did that in Saudi Arabia and the case being closed,’ MbS said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and was critical of the Saudi government was brutally murdered on October 2, 2018, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, 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’ involvement in the murder.
But he has since bowed to that reality, patching up 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’ over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and warned that his country will get nukes if Iran does
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and was critical of the Saudi government was brutally murdered on October 2, 2018, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in a case that sparked international outrage
Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a ‘pariah’ over the killing while campaigning for president in 2020, but rolled back the comments and has since worked to improve relations (Mohammed bin Salman, right, welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden to Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022)
MbS was also questioned about the possibility of Iran eventually creating a nuclear weapon, and he confirmed that if Iran were to begin building an arsenal, Saudi Arabia would seek to do the same. (Pictured: an alleged Iranian military bunker)
The Biden administration released a declassified report by U.S. intelligence 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 of Iran eventually creating a nuclear weapon, and he confirmed that if Iran were to begin building an arsenal, Saudi Arabia would seek to do the same.
‘We are concerned if any country getting a nuclear weapon: That’s a bad, that’s a bad move,’ he said. ‘They don’t need to get nuclear weapon because you cannot use it.’
When asked how he would respond to Iran securing a nuke, he said: ‘If they get one we have to get one’.
That has worried nuclear nonproliferation experts, who say the U.S. granting the kingdom the ability to enrich uranium itself could fuel a regional arms race.
During the interview with Baier, MbS also said he doesn’t see an issue with a Saudi Arabian wealth fund injecting $2billion into Jared Kushner’s private equity – despite his family links 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.
When asked whether this created a conflict of interest – and if the royal family would pull the money should Donald Trump win re-election – MbS said ‘if it’s legal, what’s the problem?’
‘We look for opportunities in investment,’ he said. ‘We have a lot of investment around the globe with a lot of people with economic opportunity.’
On whether the $2billion would remain with Kushner even if Trump becomes president again, MbS answered in the affirmative.
‘It’s a commitment that PIF have and when PIF have a commitment with any investor around the globe, we keep it,’ he said.
Pushed on whether he recognized that this could create a conflict of interest, he said: ‘Saudi Arabia is so big, so I’m quite sure mostly any person around the world directly or indirectly you have something to do with Saudi Arabia.
‘So if that can affect President Trump’s decision if he becomes a President, that means it can affect every president in the world and every person in the world’s decision.
‘Because directly and indirectly they have some sort of interest in something to do with Saudi Arabia.’
The Biden administration released a declassified report by U.S. intelligence 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 doesn’t see any issues with his wealth fund injecting $2 billion into Jared Kushner’s fledgling private equity despite links to former President Donald Trump. (Pictured: 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. (Pictured: 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 agreement with the United States to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for a U.S. defense pact and aid in developing its own civilian nuclear program.
But the Saudis have said any deal would require major progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state, which is a hard sell for the most religious and nationalist government in Israel’s history.
‘For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part,’ MbS told Baer.
‘We got to see where we go,’ the prince said. ‘We hope that will reach a place, that it will ease the life of the Palestinians, get Israel as a player in the Middle East.’
He also denied reports that the 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 meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
Biden raised concerns about the far-right Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians and urged Netanyahu to take steps to improve conditions in the West Bank at a time of heightened violence in the occupied territory.
Netanyahu’s office said the meeting ‘mostly dealt with ways to establish an historic peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could greatly advance an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and facilitate the establishment of an economic corridor to link Asia, the Middle East and Europe.’
Asked during the interview about working with someone as conservative as Netanyahu, Prince Mohammed said: ‘If we have a breakthrough, reaching a deal that gives the Palestinians their needs and (making) the region calm, we’ve got to work with whoever’s there.