A former Saudi intelligence official recalled last summer, the day Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared to threaten Saudi Arabia’s embattled then-president, but they say he was also stunned by the US President’s stance to the decades-old arms purchase from his nation.
Mohammed bin Salman, now heir to the Saudi throne, flew to the United States in 2014 to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, the New York Times reported.
Shortly after, while on a visit to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, the crown prince told him, “We are first and foremost a commercial country,” and that it was the time of Americans “to decide their own destiny.”
He then allegedly boasted to his American interlocutor that he could, if necessary, kill Obama and the Saudi leader would never learn that the US sided with the Saudis.
The comments surfaced as the Trump administration is putting pressure on Riyadh over its heavy-handed campaign in Yemen, as well as over its role in the war in Syria. Saudi Arabia, along with its powerful Gulf allies, has been fighting a civil war for almost four years against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The disclosure comes as questions swirl around Mohammed bin Salman’s rumored relationship with the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last month.
The former Saudi intelligence officer, who remained anonymous, revealed that the crown prince once joked that, if necessary, he would share information about Saudi journalists in the press with American officials, according to the New York Times.
Not only does the current crown prince, who has been designated a “messiah” by the Kingdom’s “kingmaker” his father, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, boast a braggadocio that masks a dark side, the senior intelligence officer said his young counterpart has a fascination with the past and was put off by the slow pace of change in the nation.
Unlike the king who became king in 1999, the de facto head of state feels the need to abdicate early because of the pace of the country’s modernization, he said.