CBS interview: Saudi Crown Prince talks Khashoggi, Yemen, Iran and women rights

CBS interview: Saudi Crown Prince talks Khashoggi, Yemen, Iran and women rights
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he did not order the murder of Khashoggi. (Courtesy of CBS)
Updated 30 September 2019

CBS interview: Saudi Crown Prince talks Khashoggi, Yemen, Iran and women rights

CBS interview: Saudi Crown Prince talks Khashoggi, Yemen, Iran and women rights
  • MBS denies allegations that he ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
  • War with Iran could bring the global economy to standstill MBS warns

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that as leader of the kingdom, he takes full responsibility for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, because it involved people working for the government, but categorically denied ordered the killing.

In a wide-ranging interview with Norah O’Donnell, the anchor of CBS Evening News, the crown prince was also asked about the current tensions with Iran, the war in Yemen and women’s rights.

On the murder of Khashoggi he said: “This was a heinous crime … But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government,” he said in the interview that was aired on Sunday.

“When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials, working for the Saudi government, as a leader I must take responsibility. This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future,” the crown prince added.

On whether or not he knew of the operation, the crown prince said: “Some think that I should know what three million people working for the Saudi government do daily. It’s impossible that the three million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second-highest person in the Saudi government.”

Asked about CIA reports regarding his alleged involvement in the murder, the crown prince challenged the agency to make their information public. 

“If there is any such information that charges me, I hope it is brought forward publicly.” he said.

He also said that no journalist is a threat to Saudi Arabia, and that on the contrary, what happened to Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, is the real threat to the Kingdom.

Women’s rights

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a massive series of reforms which has seen women’s rights improved, with the lifting of the driving ban and the guardianship requirement which prevented women from traveling without the consent of a male family member.

Norah O'Donnell asked him about allegations Saudi female activist Loujain Al-Hathloul had been tortured in prison.

“If this is correct, it is very heinous. Islam forbids torture. The Saudi laws forbid torture,” he said, adding: “Human conscience forbids torture. And I will personally follow up on this matter.”

O’Donnel then suggested to the crown prince that he “does not support women’s rights and human rights.”

“This perception pains me. It pains me when some people look at the picture from a very narrow angle. I hope that everybody comes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and sees the reality, and meets women and Saudi citizens, and judges for themselves,” he responded.




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned that war with Iran could destroy the global economy. (Courtesy CBS)

War in Yemen

On the five-year-long war in Yemen he said: “If Iran stops its support of the Houthi militia then the political solution would be much easier. Today we open all initiatives to a political solution in Yemen. We hope this happens today rather than tomorrow

Asked if he was saying he wanted a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen he replied: “We are doing this every day.”

“But we try to turn this discussion into an actual implementation on the ground, and the Houthis – a few days ago – announced a ceasefire from their side. We consider it a positive step to push for more serious and active political dialogue.”

The crown prince was asked how he could trust a Houthi ceasefire: “As a leader I must always be optimistic every day. If I am a pessimist, I should leave my post and work somewhere else”

Iran tensions and the Aramco attack

He told CBS “60 Minutes” that he believed the Sept. 14 attacks were an act of war, but he added that he would prefer to see a peaceful resolution to the current tensions.

He said: “Because the political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one.”

He said a war with Iran would mean the total collapse of the global economy.

He called for Donald Trump to sit at the table with the Iranians – something he blamed the latter for its failure to happen.

The strikes against the oil-processing facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais resulted in knocking off 50 percent of the Kingdom’s oil production, or about five percent of global energy supply.

Days later the crown prince and the Saudi energy minister pledged that the Kingdom would deliver oil supplies to consumers for the month and would revive oil production to 11 million barrels a day.

It was a task the state-owned company achieved ahead of schedule.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he was optimistic about the future. (Courtesy of CBS)

Sanctions

The US then imposed further sanctions on Iranian assets on Sept. 20, including on Iran’s central bank and the National Development Fund of Iran.

“If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” the crown prince said in the CBS interview.

“Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”

Speaking of the Middle East’s role in the global economy he added: “The region represents about 30 percent of the world’s energy supplies, about 20 percent of global trade passages, about four percent of the world GDP.”

“Imagine all of these three things stop. This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.”


Special needs pilgrims completed Hajj with ease

The 17 special needs pilgrims performed Hajj during this season. (Supplied)
The 17 special needs pilgrims performed Hajj during this season. (Supplied)
Updated 5 min 22 sec ago

Special needs pilgrims completed Hajj with ease

The 17 special needs pilgrims performed Hajj during this season. (Supplied)
  • The transportation process between the holy sites was perfect

MAKKAH: Special needs pilgrims in the Kingdom performing Hajj have received continued support for years, and this year was no exception.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with Harakiya Adults Motor Disability Association, managed to help 17 adults from the association to perform Hajj during this season through a fully equipped campaign that took into account their health conditions, to assure an easy and comfortable experience.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is keen to enable the disabled to perform their pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. The deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Abdulfattah Mashat, has given the matter special care personally, conducting inspection visits to the disabled Hajj camp in Muzdalifah to reassure and listen to the suggestions of people there.
The 17 special needs Saudi pilgrims’ disabilities range from paraplegics to polio survivors, from different areas including Riyadh, Jouf, Dammam, Dawadmi, Madinah, Asir, Qassim, the Eastern Province, Hail, and Taif.
Majed Al-Soraya, director of the Campaign Beneficiaries Services Department, who suffers from a motor disability, told Arab News: “Selecting candidates was based on many conditions, including that the beneficiary had never performed Hajj before.
“Participation was limited to persons with motor disabilities who could rely on themselves, and were immunized with (a coronavirus disease vaccine) second dose,” he added.
Al-Soraya also mentioned the ministry’s readiness to offer pilgrims with motor disabilities a comfortable stay and fully equipped transpiration. “Technical inspection and maintenance procedures were carried out as a preparation stage. We made sure to prepare travel medical supplies, first aid, Ihrams, and pilgrims’ needs. We also made preparations to ensure a well-equipped secure residence in Mina.”
One of the participants, Abdullah Alraishan, a paraplegic whose condition was caused by a car accident in 2011, told Arab News: “To be honest, I was not expecting a chance to perform Hajj this year. It is an unexpected feeling. I’m really speechless; everything was well organized. Indeed, all sectors have made an exceptional effort.
“Being a person with disabilities, I found very comprehensive access, care, and attention by the campaign. The transportation process between the holy sites was perfect. Thanks to our government, security sectors, and to everyone who worked on such an initiative for people with disabilities.”
Khalid Al-Hajjri, 38, has had a movement disability since birth. He told Arab News that he decided to participate in this year’s Hajj because it was an irreplaceable opportunity, in light of the small numbers, organization and precautions in place.
“The experience of Hajj this year was wonderful, full of spirituality and indescribable feelings,” he said. “The movement between the holy sites was carried out with ease (with) the well-equipped cars, the sufficient number of organizers and the integrated coordination with all sectors.”
Naji Al-Fahiqi, 43, who also suffers from a movement disability caused by poliomyelitis said that he was not expecting to get the opportunity to participate in this year’s Hajj. “I was lucky enough and blessed to be among (the) pilgrims this year,” he said.


King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides
Updated 42 min 41 sec ago

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides
  • King Salman expressed his wishes that the missing would return safely
  • Torrential downpours have lashed India’s western coast in recent days, sparking landslides near Mumbai

RIYADH: King Salman sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to the president of India after 119 people died in monsoon-triggered landslides and building collapses.
More than 135,000 people have been evacuated and dozens are still missing.
In the cable to Ram Nath Kovind, the king said “We share the pain of this affliction with you and we send you, the families of the deceased and your people, our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy.”
He also expressed his wishes that the missing would return safely.
Torrential downpours have lashed India’s western coast in recent days, sparking landslides near the financial capital Mumbai and causing the worst floods in decades in the resort state of Goa.


Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 52 min 39 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed three Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Al-Ekhbariya reported.

The Houthi militia continues its aggression by trying to target civilians and civilian objects, the coalition said.

The coalition is taking operational measures to protect civilians from Houthi hostilities, it added.


Ancient rock art in Hima listed as Saudi Arabia’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
Updated 24 July 2021

Ancient rock art in Hima listed as Saudi Arabia’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
  • Hima was a conduit for caravans on the trade and Hajj routes going to and from the southern parts of Arabia
  • People who passed through the area between pre- and post-historic times have left behind a substantial collection of rock art

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s cultural rock art in Hima, Najran, has been officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The decision was made during the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Fuzho, China.

The site, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world.

Located in southwestern Saudi Arabia, Hima was a conduit for caravans on the trade and Hajj routes going to and from the southern parts of Arabia, to the ancient world markets of the rest of Arabia, Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt.

People who passed through the area between pre- and post-historic times have left behind a substantial collection of rock art depicting hunting, wildlife, plants, symbols, and tools used at the time, as well as thousands of inscriptions written in several ancient scripts, including Musnad, Thamudic, Nabataean and early Arabic.

The wells on the site date back more than 3,000 years and were considered a vital source of fresh water in the vast desert of Najran. They still serve fresh water to this day.

“We are thrilled to have this exceptional ancient site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The area has outstanding universal value, providing us with many lessons about the evolution of human culture and life in ancient times,” said Dr. Jasir Alherbish, CEO of the Heritage Commission.

“We are working to preserve the area and conduct research to further understand the rock inscriptions, and are looking forward to welcoming more local and international visitors to come and see this historic cultural site for themselves.”

The preservation and protection of the Kingdom's cultural and natural heritage is a key part of the Kingdom's 2030 Vision.

Overseen by the Heritage Commission, a raft of new discoveries has cemented the country’s reputation as a go-to destination for archeologists, historians and scientists looking to understand human history across the region.

Last year, the Commission announced one of the Kingdom's most ground-breaking discoveries – ancient human and animal footprints, dating back more than 120,000 years, in Tabuk, marking the first evidence of human life on the Arabian Peninsula.

The Kingdom has also taken serious measures toward protecting national and international heritage. In 2019, the Ministry of Culture signed a Memorandum of Understating with UNESCO to contribute $25 million to the organization’s strategy for the preservation of heritage worldwide.


Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 24 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 497,965
  • A total of 8,155 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 14 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,256 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 280 were recorded in Riyadh, 244 in Makkah, 170 in the Eastern Province, 150 in Asir, 107 in Jazan, 59 in Madinah, 47 in Hail, 41 in Najran, 25 in the Northern Borders region, 23 in Tabuk, 21 in Al-Baha, and six in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 497,965 after 1,155 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,155 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 24 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.