This is the unofficial transcript, translated by Al Arabiya English, of the full CBS interview with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which includes segments unaired by CBS. CBS News correspondent Norah O’Donnell interviewed the Crown Prince earlier this month.
INTERVIEWER: You are ready? Your highness, I know your time is limited so we have a lot to cover but I would like to get started with a question that so many people would like an answer to. Did you order the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?
CROWN PRINCE: Without a doubt, no. The incident is very painful one, but I take full responsibility as a leader in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially that it was done by Saudi officials. There is no doubt that justice must take its course. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken all necessary measures in this regard and now the case is in court and every individual responsible will be held accountable.
INTERVIEWER: What does that mean that you take responsibility?
CROWN PRINCE: When an incident happens against a Saudi citizen by employees of the Saudi government, as a leader, I must take responsibility. This was a shortcoming which took place. I must take responsibility to ensure that this does not happen again. I have to make sure what the flaw is in our system in Saudi Arabia and we must take all high measures to avoid anything like this in the future.
INTERVIEWER: Your highness you invited us here and the world wants the answer to this question. How did you not know about this operation?
CROWN PRINCE: I’m surprised when some expect that I can know what three million government employees are doing in Saudi Arabia. The government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has three million employees. So it is impossible for three million employees to file reports to the commander in Saudi Arabia or to the second man in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are ministries and institutions operating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and shortcomings happen. What is required is that when these shortcomings happen, all the procedures required to avoid this shortcoming in the future are implemented.
INTERVIEWER: Two of your closest advisers, who are accused of orchestrating this plot, were fired by the King, removed from your inner circle. The question is, how could you not know, if this was carried out by people who are close to you?
CROWN PRINCE: Today, all investigations are ongoing and when charges are proven against anyone, regardless of their level, they will be referred to the court without any exception.
INTERVIEWER: The CIA has concluded with medium to high confidence that you personally targeted Khashoggi and you probably ordered his death.
CROWN PRINCE: I hope this information is released. If there is any information accusing me of doing any action, I urge that it be released.
INTERVIEWER: Brought forward by who?
CROWN PRINCE: The person who has the information. Personally, I do not know about any information about me, but if they know something about me personally, I hope it is released.
INTERVIEWER: What kind of threat is a newspaper columnist to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia that he would deserve to be brutally murdered?
CROWN PRINCE: There is no threat from a journalist. There are many journalists around the world, be they Saudi or non-Saudi, who speak every day about their opinions and their inclinations. There are also many journalists inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who speak their opinions inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the laws of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so there is no threat in this regard. The threat to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and what Saudi Arabia is doing, is someone who treats a Saudi journalist, whom I know personally in this way, and for this painful event to happen to him in embassies – in one of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s consulates.
INTERVIEWER: I have read what the Saudi prosecutor has said about those who are charged in this murder and it’s gruesome, the details. When you heard that people close to you and in your government carried out such a grisly murder and that the American government thinks that you ordered it, what did you think?
CROWN PRINCE: I think there are inaccurate words in what you mentioned. There is no official statement from the US government in this regard. I have no clear information or evidence of someone close to me who has ordered something like this. There are some charges that are under investigation for some people, but it is undoubtedly terrible and very painful. You cannot imagine how much pain we are experiencing, especially as the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from such an incident.
INTERVIEWER: Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi citizen and he was critical of yours, did you not like the criticism?
I knew Jamal personally and met him many times. He is a person with many ideas. He might have disagreed with me on some ideas but, according to my observations, I believe that he was supportive of many of the actions that are being undertaken under Vision 2030.
INTERVIEWER: Are you sorry to hear about his death and the way he was killed?
CROWN PRINCE: I am greatly pained that we lost someone like Jamal. And I am more pained because it happened in a Saudi consulate and even more pained because it was done by Saudi officials and because the world thinks that the Saudi government has a role — as a government — in something like this.
INTERVIEWER: Final question on this and again, this alleged by the Saudi prosecutor, that Jamal Khashoggi’s body was dismembered, it’s sickening and people in your government who serve this government and carry out your orders and other things. When you heard that he was dismembered by member of this government?
CROWN PRINCE: I request of our friends in the Turkish government to sign…through the Turkish Public Prosecution and the Saudi Public Prosecution, in order to complete the investigations in Turkey and come up with full information in this regard. To this day, from a year, the Turkish prosecutor, as far as I know, refused to sign agreements with the Saudi prosecutor to cooperate in the bilateral investigations.
INTERVIEWER: I am sorry I don’t understand what is that means forgive me.
CROWN PRINCE: Before any cooperation between a prosecutor of a state and another, they sign an agreement to exchange information and cooperation in the investigation. We asked for that from the Turkish government through the Saudi Public Prosecutor and it has not happened until today. So, it is difficult for us to produce information that happened inside Turkey without the cooperation of the Turkish prosecutor.
INTERVIEWER: This murder was condemned globally, how much has it hurt the US-Saudi relationship?
CROWN PRINCE: The Saudi-American relationship is a very strong and solid one that goes back decades and built upon many economic, political, military and security interests for the benefit of both countries and the world. Any negative incident, it is our role as a US and Saudi government to deal with it and ensure that it does not happen again and move forward toward a beneficial future for our countries and for the world at large.
INTERVIEWER: What about Jamal Khashoggi’s family, what about what they want?
CROWN PRINCE: As far as I know, I believe that the family is satisfied with the actions taken by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, both from the investigations and the referral to a trial. Today, the family is involved in all the measures taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and my understanding is that they are satisfied with these measures.
INTERVIEWER: I spoke with a prominent US senator before I came here and he said because of what happened for Jamal Khashoggi and what happened in Yemen that in his words, “there is not a lot of good will around here in Congress for Saudi Arabia, how much is it hurt the relationship?
CROWN PRINCE: As I mentioned, the relationship is much bigger and this matter is heinous and painful for all of us. Our role is to work day and night to overcome this and ensuring that our future is much better than any past incidents.
INTERVIEWER: Let’s turn now to the attack on your oil fields. An unprecedented attack on Saudi Arabia, that most of the world believes was carried out by Iran, this attack hit the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, were you blindsided?
CROWN PRINCE: I may disagree with you a little. This strike hit the heart of the global energy supply and not just the heart of the Kingdom’s energy supply. It has disrupted nearly five and a half percent of the world’s need – for America, China and the entire world – for energy. This horrible development underscores how Iran does things and when it doesn’t see a strong reaction from the international community, it dares and takes even bigger actions. It started from stopping ships, to hijacking ships, to shooting down planes until it dared and did this recently. So today, the international community must stand firmly and decisively to put a clear and strong end to Iran and so it does not evolve and threaten the global energy sources and the global economy. Everyone will suffer if energy supplies are damaged.
INTERVIEWER: How did you find out, where were you, what did you think when you heard this had been carried out?
CROWN PRINCE: When I heard this horrible thing, it came as a surprise and I did not expect that the Iranian regime would reach such stupidity, and I thought it was much smarter than this, especially its attempts to hide the launch sites of the missiles and from where they came from. We have taken all necessary measures both at the Ministry of Defense and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and most importantly at the Ministry of Energy and Aramco. Aramco has proved very strongly that it is capable of dealing with the issue and its commitment to energy supplies with countries and its suppliers and solving the issue in very big way without any effects to the global power supply.
INTERVIEWER: You know the source? Do you know with 100 percent certainty that this attack came from Iran?
CROWN PRINCE: I think the conviction is clear but we need the investigation to conclude for it to be very solid.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have a sense of where they came from?
CROWN PRINCE: I think a lot of people know where it came from, but we are waiting until the investigations are completed.
INTERVIEWER: This is the first time that Iran has directly hit Saudi Arabia, the fight has now come home. How vulnerable is Saudi Arabia?
CROWN PRINCE: The last thing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wants is war. We have Vision 2030 and we have a brilliant and great future and the region has a great and brilliant future, I think Saudi Arabia does not want war but without a doubt the Iranians must know that all our options are on the table and that we are offering peace before everything else. For it to turn to peace, it must stop all hostilities and be serious about negotiating, sitting at the table and discussing.
INTERVIEWER: The kingdom is the world’s number one importer of arms of military equipment, billions of dollars spent on equipment, how could it not prevent an attack like this?
CROWN PRINCE: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a continent in size, meaning almost a whole continent larger than the whole of Western Europe and covering this continent is very difficult especially in the presence of threats from all sides, in the south we have the terrorist militia Hezbollah number two, the Houthis, in the north we have Hezbollah, we have ISIS, we have al-Qaeda, we have outlawed militias and in the east we have Iran. The threats exist from 360 degrees and all these are difficult to cover completely. Not to mention that in the past four years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been hit by more than 200 ballistic missiles and more than 200 drones and it managed to deal with them by not allowing them to reach its targets. This number has not been faced by any country in the world, even the United States of America, in dealing with a threat of this magnitude with great success.
INTERVIEWER: If you do not respond to an attack like this by Iran will Iran become emboldened?
CROWN PRINCE: For sure, if the world does not take a strong and firm position that would deter Iran, we will see a large escalation, and it will threaten the world’s interest and the supply of energy will be disrupted, and the price of oil will reach figures we have never seen before in our lives.
INTERVIEWER: Does it have to be a military response?
CROWN PRINCE: I hope not
INTERVIEWER: Because a political and peaceful solution is much better than a military solution.
INTERVIEWER: Would you be willing to negotiate directly with the Iranians?
CROWN PRINCE: If they can sit and negotiate directly. They do not want to negotiate except with regards to lifting sanctions, and this is one of their games that they work on regularly. President Trump gave them a chance all of 2017 to negotiate before he imposed sanctions on them and they never sat on the negotiating table, and now when he imposed sanctions on Iran they demand lifting of these sanctions to sit on the negotiating table. What logic are they talking about?
INTERVIEWER: Do you think that President Trump should sit down with president Rouhani and craft a new deal?
CROWN PRINCE: For sure this is what President Trump is asking for, and this is what we are all asking for. The ones that do not want to sit on the table are the Iranians.
INTERVIEWER: What will make that happen?
CROWN PRINCE: Change their convictions or they will continue to face the same pressure that is on them today.
INTERVIEWER: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called what Iran did, in his words, “an act of war.” Was it an act of war?
CROWN PRINCE: Definitely yes.
INTERVIEWER: How can you let an act of war go unanswered?
CROWN PRINCE: No, the answer needs to be the right one. The issue is not merely one of morale, there are economic interests, and there are global interests, we need to do our calculations properly, and we should give a chance to the Iranian regime to prove its seriousness if it wants to prove that, or it will face the necessary measures.
INTERVIEWER: I understand what you are saying. What if Iran strikes again?
CROWN PRINCE: That would mean that they are disregarding the global interests and the interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the global supplies of oil, then the situation will be very different than today.
INTERVIEWER: What kind of effect would a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran have on the region?
CROWN PRINCE: The region forms nearly 30 percent of the world’s supply of oil, and nearly 20 percent of the global trade corridors, and nearly 4 percent of the world’s GDP. Imagine, all these three things stopping means the collapse of the world economy and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East.
INTERVIEWER: Let’s turn to the war in Iran , oh excuse me, let’s turn to the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has been fighting in Yemen for 5 years, it is called the worst humanitarian crises in the world, is it time to end the war in Yemen?
CROWN PRINCE: Just as a reminder, the Iranian backed militias did a coup on the legitimate [government] that was elected by the Yemeni people and recognized internationally. They raised slogans that threatened many countries chiefly the United States with “Death to America” on their flags. They threatened the waterways in the Red Sea which forms 13 percent of the international trade. They were going to push Yemen into becoming the new Iraq, after eliminating ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria they will find a new location to grow in inside of Yemen. All of these factors drove us to respond to the call of the Yemeni government and drove the Security Council to respond as well and back the Yemeni government’s right to defend their nation, and the campaign started. Since five years the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the country that provides the most humanitarian aid in Yemen from hospitals to building roads or schools, et cetera, of aid inside of Yemen. Even the hospitals that are in Saada in the Houthi controlled areas were built using money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and operate, until today, with money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and they treat the Houthi wounded…. This all proves the seriousness of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to humanitarian aid. We notice that most humanitarian crises are in Houthi-controlled areas because they use the supplies from the United Nations and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries and sell them in the black market so they can finance a destructive war in the region, while the areas until the control of the legitimate [government] are much better off than the areas under the control of the Houthi. Those that try to exploit and place the human and children’s rights to pressure the world through dirty means, it’s the Houthis and this is with the admission of the United Nations and many of our allies around the world.
INTERVIEWER: What is the solution?
CROWN PRINCE: First, if Iran stops its support for the Houthi militias the political solution would be much easier. Today we open all initiatives for a political solution in Yemen, and we hope that this happens today before tomorrow, and we hope that the Houthi comes out of being a militia supported by or subordinate to Iran, to being a Yemeni political component that can be in harmony with its brethren inside of Yemen. Today we are working with the UN Special Envoy to find the best solutions possible and implement them on the ground for a political solution in Yemen.
INTERVIEWER: You are saying tonight that you want a negotiation to end the war in Yemen?
CROWN PRINCE: We are doing that every day, but we are trying to reflect this dialogue to be implemented on the ground, and the announcement of a cease fire by the Houthi a few days ago, we consider a positive gesture for taking a serious step forward towards a more effective political dialogue.
INTERVIEWER: Will you announce a ceasefire?
CROWN PRINCE: If they proved their seriousness, then undoubtedly we will.
INTERVIEWER: How long will that take for them to prove their commitments?
CROWN PRINCE: I believe a few days.
INTERVIEWER: You are saying that if the Houthis hold with their ceasefire that Saudi Arabia will respond in kind with a ceasefire?
CROWN PRINCE: Undoubtedly, it is not logical that we continue to attack while they stop attacking.
INTERVIEWER: What do you place the chance of this happening?
CROWN PRINCE: Very high I believe, I hope they are very high, and I believe that it is very high, and we will try as much as possible to make this work.
INTERVIEWER: So concrete steps that Saudi Arabia can take to help end the war in Yemen, you are saying you are willing to lead a ceasefire of coalition airstrikes and end the blockade?
CROWN PRINCE: The issue of goods entering, is permitted. Today Hodeidah port receives goods in full, but accepting goods with complete freedom to allow Iranian weapons to enter Yemen is not accepted for sure.
INTERVIEWER: So if I would come back here next year, do you think the war in Yemen will be over?
CROWN PRINCE: I hope it would end before this interview ends, but this matter is out of the control of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or the will of some. There are many factors that affect this, chiefly the Iranian support for the coup militia, and the situation inside of Yemen, the region, the position of the international community, the position of the United Nations, and the position of the United States. All of these are factors that will help end the war quickly or prolong the war, and whenever the right measures are taken to pressure or push towards a political solution, that will shorten the war.
INTERVIEWER: Why after 5 years are you optimistic tonight that ceasefire could hold that could lead to an end to the war in Yemen?
CROWN PRINCE: As a leader, you must be optimistic every day. I cannot be pessimistic. If I was pessimistic I should leave my seat and work in another place.
INTERVIEWER: Let me ask you about issues here at home, women’s rights, since we last spoke women are driving in Saudi Arabia and have received more rights in general but there are about a dozen female activists that have been detained for more than a year, why were they put in jail?
CROWN PRINCE: In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia there are many laws, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a state governed by laws. There are three branches of authority in government, and they refer to the King. Anyone who violates these laws will undoubtedly face legal action.The laws of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia do not criminalize the defense of women’s rights or human rights, but there may be a difference between our concept and that of the United States or other countries, some of these laws I may not personally agree with, or some Saudis disagree with, Americans disagree with them or other people in the world [may not agree with them], but as long as they are laws that exist today, regardless of whether or not we agree with them, they must be respected in order to be reformed through the reform work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
INTERVIEWER: One of the female activists who fought for the right for women to be able to drive here in Saudi Arabia, her name is Loujain al-Hathloul she is in prison today. Is it time to let her go?
CROWN PRINCE: The decision is not up to me. It goes back to the Attorney General. We have an independent Attorney General and Saudi Arabia has a very strong history of the King and the Crown Prince not interfering in the work of the judiciary. In the last hundred years, there has not been any interference by the King or the Crown Prince in this regard, until the end of the investigations and trial according to the laws of the Kingdom. So we respect this right for the Saudis as well as the prosecutor.
INTERVIEWER: Let me ask you a personal opinion, do you think she should be set free?
CROWN PRINCE: I do not have the complete information on her case but according to my understanding, I do not think that her case stops at a human rights issue. According to the information I received, there were other violations that were far from the human rights and women’s rights committed by Loujain.
INTERVIEWER: You understand the criticism, why give women the freedom to drive and then imprison one of the most high-profile women who fought for the right to drive?
CROWN PRINCE: The issue has nothing to do with this, as I mentioned from the beginning, there are laws in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that must be respected regardless of whether we agree them or not, regardless if I personally agree or disagree on them. I mean, for example, I’ll give an example, there is a cybercrime law in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, if someone came and expected tomorrow will be a rainy day, the prosecutor will directly charge him under the cybercrime Law and fine him. For me, I look at this law as a very stupid law but it is the law nonetheless. Today, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we have tens of thousands of reforms, we are focusing on the most important reforms before we get to fix the tweet about a rainy day in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But until we reach this reform, as long as it is a law, no one can even tell the prosecutor, not even the King, whether the law is good, or apply the ones he’s convinced of but not apply the ones he’s not convinced of and are not good. This will cause chaos and the world must understand and everyone must understand that as long as there is a law, it must be respected until this law is changed.
INTERVIEWER: You understand what is said about you that publicly you have pledged to change Saudi Arabia; to transform the economy; to talk about a moderate Islam; to allow women to have more rights, and so the criticism is yet there is crackdown and a jailing of women who raise issues about things that needs to change in Saudi Arabia, that is the perception that you don’t support women’s rights and human rights and these concrete examples of women who have been jailed?
CROWN PRINCE: This impression hurts me and it hurts that some look at the picture narrowly. I hope that everyone comes to Saudi Arabia, looks at the reality and meet Saudi women and citizens and judge by themselves.
INTERVIEWER: In the case of Loujain who fought for women’s rights to drive, her family says she has been tortured in prison, is that right?
CROWN PRINCE: If this is true then it is heinous. Islam prohibits torture, Saudi Arabia’s laws prohibit torture, the human soul forbids torture. According to my understanding, the prosecutor has opened an investigation into this regard and if it’s proven that anyone tortured anyone in Saudi Arabia, no doubt the person will be held strongly accountable and I will follow this up myself.
INTERVIEWER: You will personally follow up on it?
CROWN PRINCE: Without a doubt.
INTERVIEWER: You are viewed as all-powerful in this country. Can you issue a royal decree, can you issue new guidelines about how these female detainees are treated?
CROWN PRINCE: First, I don’t have the power of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. My strength is derived from the power of the Saudi people, I cannot be strong if I am not supported by the Saudi people. Also, I return to the point that some believe that in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the King is sitting in his office and issues any order he wants the next day. The king has powers that are based on the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia, we have a constitution, we have laws, the king works within these laws. We have hundreds of laws and hundreds of regulation. We have three bodies: the executive, legislative and judicial authority. The work is fully institutionalized in all these actions. So, the work is not based on mood in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For the king to make a decision whether he thinks it’s right or wrong, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is required to have the decision stemming from the three institutions according to their specialties.
INTERVIEWER: How does Saudi Arabia still need to change?
CROWN PRINCE: We’ve come a long way. I think if we asked any analysts in 2014, whether economic, rights, legal or political analysts, were asked whether Saudi Arabia after 100 years will enact the reforms that it has undertaken in the last five years, they would say no, and that it would be impossible for these reforms to happen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Today we have come a long way. It is very historic for Saudi Arabia on several fronts, economic and social, et cetera…We do not think that is enough…Our ambition is much greater so that we can become a nation that competes in the ranks of the developed countries of the world and a leading country in the world, we have a very long way for reforms in all areas.
INTERVIEWER: What are some of the reforms that you are planning to make in the coming years, in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia?
CROWN PRINCE: I think the biggest event is the tourism announcement and that it will be the biggest event in 2020. For the first time, Saudi Arabia opens its doors for tourism. By only booking a room in a hotel or apartment or any place of lodging, a tourist may receive their visa from the airport for a very affordable price and come to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This will be a very significant event that will contribute to the growth of the economy of Saudi Arabia in the next ten years by more than 10 percent, creating millions of jobs for Saudis and non-Saudis from the region and around the world, and creating huge opportunities for the Saudi private sector and the private sector in the world, and it will attract investments for Saudi Arabia. Today, in the tourism announcement, approximately USD $30 billion worth of investments were signed and it is only the first day. We have a huge tourism strategy, and this will be the largest event of 2020 and the end of 2019 in Saudi Arabia. And on this occasion, I call on all Americans to come to Saudi Arabia to make their own judgments about this country and its beauty.
The Kingdom will become the new destination for tourism for the next 50 years, for 50 years tourist destinations have been recurrent. Today, there is new terrain, new nature, new cuisine, new arts, and a new culture that the world has not seen and that will be opened for the first time to the world.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think Americans would want to see here in Saudi Arabia?
CROWN PRINCE: It’s very hard to be able to analyze what 300 million Americans would want to see but I can say is that we have something new, be it from culture, from nature, from arts, or people, et cetera. Come and judge for yourself. I hope they will be impressed with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
INTERVIEWER: I am going out of order but I just remembered a question about the attacks on the oil facilities so if you don’t mind I just want to ask a question about that, the attack took out half of your oil production and oil industry analysts are saying it will take months to get back up on-line the repairs will take that long. How long will it take?
CROWN PRINCE: Aramco has restored half or almost 40 percent of what has been cut over 2 days – approximately 2 million barrels. And they will reach a production capacity of 11 million barrels at the end of September or the beginning of October, and at the end of October they will return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s full production capacity. This means we can cover the demand required of us in the past. And at the current time, we will cover the supplies forgone due to deficits in production via the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s huge reserves inside the Saudi Arabia or in other countries where we store oil. This proves Aramco’s credibility and ability to keep its commitments and also its ability to fix flaws. And at the end, whoever is analyzing will see if what we are saying is correct or not within the next two weeks or within the coming month and a half.
INTERVIEWER: Sure I understand that the reserves could meet the demand but how long will the production facility be off-line?
CROWN PRINCE: As I had said earlier, we will reach 11 million by the end of September and 12 million by the end of October, which is the normal production capacity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
INTERVIEWER: You are not worried?
CROWN PRINCE: Not at all, we have high competencies which are great in Aramco, and I am proud of them and all Saudis are proud of them, and all our clients in the world are proud of them.
INTERVIEWER: Even when I was here a year and half ago the discussion was about an IPO for Aramco, taking part of it public, what do you think was the strategic reason that Iran struck Aramco?
CROWN PRINCE: I believe that it is foolish, there is no strategic target. Is there anyone foolish enough to attack 5 percent of the global oil supplies? The strategic target is only…what they did only, is that they are fools that is what they did. They have proven that they are a regime that only cares about their ideology to control the world and to control Muslims and spreading extremism and terrorism and their primary slogan is “Death to America” and death to many in the region and other in the world. Those that want this do not care about the development of Iran. They received USD $150 billion because of the agreement, I want one person to name a street that was built in Iran, or an industrial or residential or entertainment area. Nothing, where did the 150 billion go? It went to the Houthi and Hezbollah and the other extremist militias in the region and aggressive acts. Immediately after the agreement, we saw an increase in tensions and an increase in Iran’s aggressive acts in the region and an increase in its danger.
INTERVIEWER: Given that, that why President Trump pulled out of the deal that struck by Obama and other western countries and now this effort of maximum pressure, maximum sanctions, has that led Iran to strike out?
CROWN PRINCE: I do not want to say that one way or the other. What led them to attack is their underestimation of the seriousness of the international community and the seriousness of the allies of the countries of the Middle East in the world, and the seriousness of the countries of the Middle East because of many actions they have taken in the past and no one stopped them from doing them.
INTERVIEWER: How often do you talk with President Trump?
CROWN PRINCE: We are constantly coordinating with all of our allies, whether in the region of the world, and at a high level. It is our duty to coordinate with our allies including President Trump.
INTERVIEWER: And I know you spoke after this attack, what promises or assurances did President Trump make in terms of the defense of Saudi Arabia?
CROWN PRINCE: As everyone knows, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia depends greatly on the United States of America for its arms for many reasons. Most importantly is the strategic alliance and partnership between us to protect America and protect the region and protect the world from terrorism and extremism, and to protect the world oil supplies that interests America and the stability of the price of oil and protect the global economy. Many objectives that are important to both countries. I believe America knows the dangers of leaving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be unsafe or exposed. That will lead to greatly threatening the interests of America not after 10 years, but after a few months from now.
INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else that I did not ask you about that you would like to discuss?
CROWN PRINCE: I just hope that our friends in the United States of America, whether those we agree or disagree with, come to see for themselves before they judge anything, and verify, then judge whatever they want to judge.
INTERVIEWER: To come here and judge for themselves?
CROWN PRINCE: Definitely, that is the best way. Judging from afar, is not a good thing, I believe.
INTERVIEWER: You give very few interviews?
CROWN PRINCE: For sure, but you are able to get me always.
INTERVIEWER: This is our second interview…
CROWN PRINCE: True.
INTERVIEWER: With tough questions…
CROWN PRINCE: I hope the questions are far away from all these things.
INTERVIEWER: So let me ask you I know you’re like your father the king, you are student of history.
CROWN PRINCE: Correct
INTERVIEWER: How will history remember and judge your first few years? One day-to-day operations here?
CROWN PRINCE: I hope history will document the current generation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because it was able to take the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from a great generation in the past, that handed over one of the top 20 economies in the world, a state which has huge political depth, and a state with huge social dimension and high culture, security and stability to a much better state. We will handover to our future generations and will overcome the challenges with the least amount of losses and greatest gains and we will be proud at the end of our lives of the achievements that we, as a whole generation, have done either myself or those of my age in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
INTERVIEWER: What lessons have you learned? And have you made mistakes?
CROWN PRINCE: Prophets have made mistakes so how can we expect as humans not to be wrong, but what is important is that we learn from our mistakes and make sure that they will not be repeated and be smarter to avoid other mistakes that may not have been in our experience in the past. And as you mentioned in the beginning, reading history makes a person learn from his mistakes so one doesn’t make the same mistakes himself.
INTERVIEWER: What have you learned from the five years in Yemen?
CROWN PRINCE: That war must be a last resort.
INTERVIEWER: And what have you learned from one year later what happened to Jamal Khashoggi?
CROWN PRINCE: There should be continued reforms in all sectors, and we must reach our goals. We should not reach on any day to a conclusion that the sector is operating well, since once we reach the conclusion that the sector is operating well, that means the faults will start.
INTERVIEWER: Are you committed to ending the crackdown on dissidents, critics, journalists?
CROWN PRINCE: This is a loaded question, I have no information about who you mean so I can answer clearly. As per my understanding with regards to what is going on in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, no one will be jailed and investigated by the public prosecutor and sent to trial except for charges related to breaking clear laws. However, we sometimes see people who we classify as terrorists, and who intelligence agencies around the world classify as terrorists and extremists, while some claim that they carry a positive message to humanity. I wish that if any country believes that these terrorists and extremists are correct and safe, I am ready to work personally to deliver these people to those countries so they can be set free and they can bear full responsibility for these terrorists and extremists being set completely free in their countries.
However, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wages a serious war against terrorism and extremism that is based on our laws, the other side accuses us of suppressing some political activists. This does not make sense, I wish that they could go back to those people’s clips and letters and what they promote and judge based on that. I hope that any person that faced any jail time or has been investigated by the public prosecutor, and they believe that they are not extremists or terrorists or accused of extremism or terrorism, that they refer back to that person’s clips and letters and what they promote and judge through that.
INTERVIEWER: Final question, if we were to come back a year from now, what will have changed here in Saudi Arabia?
CROWN PRINCE: We discussed some things in our last interview and I came today, I believe that we are saying is being implemented and today we discussed a few things, and I hope that you come to me next year and see that what we have said has been implemented on the ground.
INTERVIEWER: Okay, thank you.