Saudi Crown Prince says Khashoggi murder must not distract from Iranian threat

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the murder of Jamal Khashoggi must not shift the focus away from the Iranian threat in the region and the world.

Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that the Crown Prince made the comments while meeting a delegation of American evangelical leaders. The group arrived in Saudi Arabia after holding talks in Abu Dhabi with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed. The delegation was organised by Joel Rosenberg, a US and Israel citizen who is an evangelical author and activist.

The Saudi leader said the Khashoggi murder was a “heinous act,” adding that Saudi authorities “have already arrested 18 people …. I fired 5, we are going to get to the bottom of this and people will have to pay”. Rosenberg said Crown Prince Salman understood concerns over it, but wanted to stress that the tragedy would not cause him to stop his reforms. “My enemies are exploiting this to the fullest,” Salman said.

Rosenberg said the Saudi leader “also wants to keep moving. He doesn’t want it [the killing] to implode his ability to take his country where it wants to go”.

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia last year, saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policy over the Yemen war, its policies towards Qatar and Canada and its crackdown on internal dissent. He was a regular columnist for The Washington Post. Turkish officials have accused the Saudi Crown Prince of overseeing Khashoggi’s murder. Saudi Arabia say that Khashoggi was killed by rogue agents.

The Saudi leader also spoke for 30 minutes about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the warming relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel but Rosenberg said the Crown Prince asked the delegation not to repeat that part of the conversation.