Saudi Crown Prince: Bin Laden Sought to Create Rift between Riyadh, Washington

Saudi Crown Prince: Bin Laden Sought to Create Rift between Riyadh, Washington

Monday, 19 March, 2018 - 08:00
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, said that Osama bin Laden had wanted to create a schism between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

He told CBS in a televised interview that prior to 1979, “We were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries.”

“Religion does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear,” he added.

Furthermore, he spoke of the “invasion” of several members of the Muslim Brotherhood of schools in Saudi Arabia.

“No country in the world would accept that its educational system be invaded by any radical group. It will be a short while until they are all eradicated completely,” said the Crown Prince.

He spoke of his ambition to grant Saudi women more rights, stressing: “We have come a very long way and have a short way to go. We are working on an initiative, which we will launch in the near future, to introduce regulations ensuring equal pay for men and women.”

In addition, Prince Mohammed revealed that the Kingdom will soon release information about the crackdown against corruption that was carried out last year.

He said: “What we did was extremely necessary. All actions taken were in accordance with existing and published laws.”

He revealed that the state garnered more than $100 billion from the crackdown, “but the real objective was not this amount or any other amount. The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law.”

Commenting on regional issues, Prince Mohammed remarked: “The Iranian ideology penetrated some parts of Yemen. During that time, this militia was conducting military maneuvers right next to our borders and positioning missiles at our borders.”

Iran backs the Houthi militia that is leading an insurgency against legitimate forces in Yemen.

“I hope that this militia ceases using the humanitarian situation to their advantage in order to draw sympathy from the international community. They block humanitarian aid in order to create famine and a humanitarian crisis,” continued Prince Mohammed.

“I can't imagine that the United States will accept one day to have a militia in Mexico launching missiles on Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles while Americans are watching these missiles and doing nothing.”

Asked if Saudi Arabia needs a nuclear weapon to counter Iran, he replied: “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

On Iran itself, the Crown Prince stated: “Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia. Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world. The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia.”

Asked to explain his description of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as “the new Hitler" of the Middle East, he said: “He wants to expand. He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time. Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don't want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”

“Unfortunately, Iran is playing a harmful role. Many of the Al-Qaeda operatives are protected in Iran and it refuses to surrender them to justice, and continues to refuse to extradite them to the United States. This includes the son of Osama bin Laden, the new leader of Al-Qaeda. He lives in Iran and works out of Iran. He is supported by Iran,” he stressed.

The CBS “60 Minutes” interview with the Saudi royal aired before his official visit to the United States on Monday, where he is due to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

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