Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave on Tuesday his first public address since the September 14 attacks on the Kingdom’s key oil facilities, in which he said that the response to Iran must be well-calculated.
“The political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one,” the Crown Prince said during a 60 minutes interview with Norah O'Donnell, the anchor of CBS Evening News.
In the wide-ranging interview, which took place in Jeddah last Tuesday and was aired on CBS on Sunday 8:00 p.m. EST, the Crown Prince stopped short of saying that war is the correct response to Iran following the attacks on Saudi Aramco.
The Crown Prince also discussed the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ensuing trial in Saudi Arabia, the war in Yemen, escalation with Iran, women's rights, and Saudi Arabia’s legal infrastructure.
The Crown Prince also stated that although he had no involvement in the murder of Khashoggi, which he described as a “heinous crime,” he takes full responsiblity because it “happened under his watch.”
“There is no threat from any journalist. The threat to Saudi Arabia is from such actions against a Saudi journalist. This heinous crime, that took place in a Saudi consulate,” he said, in reference to the killing of Khashoggi last October in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Turkey.
Saudi Arabian authorities at the time had said Khashoggi was murdered in a fistfight in the consulate.
Shortly after, the Kingdom arrested around 18 people for investigations, and the Saudi Public Prosecutor later asked for the death penalty for five of the arrested.
Meanwhile, in the CBS interview, the Crown Prince also discussed escalating tensions with Iran, the importance of finding a peaceful solution to regional unrest, and the latest attacks on the Kingdom's oil infrastructure.
Saudi Aramco’s key oil-processing facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked on September 14 by drone strikes, which knocked off 50 percent of the Kingdom’s oil production, or about five percent of global energy supply.
Just days after the attack, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Kingdom’s energy minister and the Crown Prince’s older brother, pledged that Saudi Arabia would deliver oil supplies to consumers for the month and revive oil production to 11 million barrels per day.
State-owned Saudi Aramco did just that and revived oil production earlier than anticipated.
The Crown Prince stressed that the attack on Saudi Arabia – which has been claimed by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia – was “of course” an act of war.
On September 20, the US imposed fresh sanctions on Tehran, including on Iran’s central bank and the National Development Fund of Iran, following the attacks.
This came after US officials directly blamed Iran for the strikes, labelling them as attacks on the world’s economy and global energy supply.
“If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests. Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven't seen in our lifetimes,” the Crown Prince said.
He went on to point out that the Middle East region is fundamental to the growth and development of the global economy.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.