Saudi-US relationship ‘thicker than water’ — Prince Turki

Prince Turki Al Faisal addressing the 27th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference at the National Council on US-Arab Relations in Washington on Wednesday. — Courtesy photo

WAHINGTON — Former Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al Faisal, while giving an address at the 27th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference at the National Council on US-Arab Relations on Wednesday here, highlighted the close relationship between Riyadh and Washington.

Although he pointed to challenges — such as the oil crisis in the 1970s or the “tragic day” of 9/11 — he said the two countries' relationship was “thicker than water”.

Quoting a Qur’anic verse, Prince Turki said that taking an innocent life is like killing all of humanity when speaking about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last month. He made his quote while discussing the Khashoggi killing during his speech.

“Subjecting our relationship to this issue is not healthy at all. Saudi Arabia is committed to bringing to justice those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and anybody else who failed in upholding the law. Justice will run its course," he said.

“From this podium I have said many times that our relationship is too big to fail, I believe it will survive this crisis," Prince Turki added. He described the Kingdom as the “center of the Islamic world to which 1.5 billion worshipers turn to pray five times a day”.

He also stressed the Kingdom plays an important role working with the US to end conflict across the Middle East. “The Kingdom provides more than 4 percent, per capita in aid to poor and developing nations. Only yesterday the Kingdom forgave $6bn of debt to those poor countries. We are an asset to our friends, not a burden," Prince Turki said.

However, he also had a warning for those he said had “banded” to damage the Saudi-US relationship. “One value that we hold dearly is attributed to the prophet Jesus ... which says that ‘people in glass houses should not throw stones'," he said.

“Countries that have tortured and incarcerated innocent people and that launched a war that killed many thousands of people based on fabricated information should be humble in their regard to others and countries that have persecuted and disappeared journalist and other individuals should not pose as champions of free speech," Prince Turki warned.

The other value that Saudi Arabia upholds is the idea from the Qur’an that “the killing of an innocent person is like the killing of all of humanity ... the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is like killing all of humanity”, the former ambassador said.

But he also asked why there was not similar outrage at the deaths of young people in Gaza, where nearly 200 people have been killed and more than 17,000 wounded in six months of demonstrations against Israeli policy.

“Innocent, unarmed Palestinian children are slaughtered every day by the Israeli army ... and yet I do not see the same media frenzy and demand to bring the perpetrators, and whoever ordered them to kill those children, to justice," he said.

“While reforming and transforming, our fight against the forces of darkness continues,” Prince Turki said. “We stand up to the hegemonic ambitions of the Iranian leadership which, as we are witnessing in Denmark’s actions, never ceases to export its terrorist activities.” —