‘I don’t care’ what Biden thinks of me: Saudi Crown Prince
“We have a long, historic relationship with the United States. For us in Saudi Arabia, our aim is to keep it and to strengthen it,” the Crown Prince told American magazine, The Atlantic.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview published Thursday that he does “not care” what US President Joe Biden thinks of him, but stressed that it was Riyadh’s aim to maintain strong ties with Washington.
“We have a long, historic relationship with the US. For us in Saudi Arabia, our aim is to keep it and to strengthen it,” the Crown Prince told American magazine, The Atlantic.
Ties soured between the two countries after Biden targeted Saudi Arabia in his first foreign policy moves. The US president ended support for “offensive” operations in Yemen, removed the Iran-backed Houthis from the terror blacklist, froze arms sales to Riyadh and the UAE, and vowed to “recalibrate” ties with Saudi Arabia.
Biden has since said he was reconsidering designating the Houthis following their near-daily attacks on Saudi Arabia and recent drone attacks on Abu Dhabi. The group also continues to refuse to negotiate a political solution to the yearslong war in Yemen, which involves the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed bin Salman noted political, economic, security, defense, and trade interests between the two countries. “And we have a huge opportunity to boost all of these things.”
But he said there was a “big possibility” of these ties being “downgraded.”
“If you ask Saudi Arabia, we want to boost it in all areas,” he added.
The crown prince was asked about damaged relations between Saudi Arabia and the US following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its impact on the US president’s opinion of him.
“Simply, I don’t care. It’s up to him to think about the interests of America,” he said in the interview.
Asked what interests the US had in Saudi Arabia, the crown prince said he was not an American, so it is not his position to speak of American interests.
Mohammed bin Salman pointed to Saudi’s economic growth and Vision 2030.
“Where is the potential in the world today? It’s in Saudi Arabia. And if you want to miss it. I believe other people in the East are going to be super happy to see,” he said.
The crown prince said Saudi Arabia was one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, with two of the 10 biggest global funds and one of the largest global cash reserves.
“The total Saudi investment in America is $800 billion. In China, to date, we’ve invested less than $100 billion,” he said.
“The American companies have a huge concentration in Saudi Arabia. We have more than 300,000 Americans in Saudi Arabia, some of them Saudi-American, living in Saudi Arabia, and it’s growing every day. So, the interest is obvious. Whether you want to win in Saudi Arabia or lose it in Saudi Arabia, is up to you.”
US influence in Saudi domestic affairs
The crown prince was asked about US influence in internal Saudi affairs and how the US judges its allies by pursuing policies similar to American interests or ideologies.
“Actually, if you try to pressure us on something that we believe in already, you just make it harder for us to implement it,” he said.
“For example, in Saudi Arabia, is social development going backward or forward? Just see what’s happened five years, see what’s happening today, and see what’s going to happen next year," he said, suggesting a chat with any locals or a visit to Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, he said socially, the two countries would never be in complete tandem.
“We will not reach 100 percent because we have some beliefs that we respect in Saudi Arabia. It’s not me. It’s the Saudi people, and it is my duty to respect and to fight for the Saudi beliefs and for my belief as a Saudi citizen among them.”
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