Transcript: Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman’s interview

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This is the transcript of the full interview aired by VICE Media with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman. For a summary of Prince Khalid's main points, click here.

This interview with Prince Khalid bin Salman was conducted on July 27, 2018.

INTERVIEW: Thank you so much for taking the time with us today. I know you’re a busy guy.

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well thank you, it’s great to be here.

INTERVIEWER: So, we’ll get right into it. President Trump on his first international trip goes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Why?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well first of all, the Saudi-US relationship is strong, and it has been strong for seven decades. This relationship started with President Roosevelt, who is a Democrat, and has been strengthening since then with different presidents of the United States, Democrats and Republicans. So this is a continuation of this historic, strong relationship that has protected people from both countries on the security side, and also it has on the economic side created a lot of jobs and opportunities in both countries and helped the economy. President Trump’s visit is an important visit to the Muslim world, and I believe that it is vital for the United States to have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world.

And I think the president’s speech on that visit was very encouraging to Muslim people to see. He spoke about counterterrorism, and he said that ISIS and the terrorist groups’ victims are mostly Muslims. And it’s very important for the Muslim people to hear the President of the United States mentioning this.

INTERVIEWER: What were some of the policies that were discussed during that trip? Obviously counterterrorism was high on the agenda. I believe you opened the center for counterterrorism in Riyadh during that trip. What were some of the other policies?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: We spoke about ways to increase our bilateral cooperation on the security side, defense side, and most importantly, the economic side. We have continued to work with this current administration, and we will continue to work with the United States to continue to build this important relationship.

INTERVIEWER: Also there was a big arms component for that trip. What happened there?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: There has always been a strong cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States on defense procurement. We have been important customers to American companies that have created a lot of jobs throughout our cooperation on the defense procurement, and we’ll continue to work with the United States and American companies to build our armed forces that we use to counter terrorism and malign actors in the region.

INTERVIEWER: Let’s talk about terrorism in the region. What are the greatest threats to Saudi Arabia today?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: I believe the biggest threats to the region, and to international security, is basically Iran. The Iranian regime and its proxies on one side, and ISIS, al-Qaeda, and terrorist organizations on the other side. We believe that they’re both two sides of the same coin. They believe in the same concept, not necessarily exactly the same ideology, but they both do not believe in the sovereignty of nations, they both believe in a transnational ideological state, they both do not believe in international law, and sometimes they compete with each other, and they fight each other, but when it comes to us, we’re the common enemy, and they cooperate.

INTERVIEWER: Why are you the common enemy?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well because we are a force of stability, a force of peace, a force of prosperity in the region. What we want to do in Saudi Arabia is we have this, currently, this great vision, vision 2030, where we want to reform our economy, to basically uncap the potential in Saudi Arabia, to open new sectors in Saudi Arabia, and to have a prosperous country, and to move our citizens forward. To be able to do that, we need a stable, secure region, a prosperous region. We need to increase our economic cooperation with neighboring countries.

Iran wants to export the revolution. Iran has an expansionist ideology. Iran wants other states in the region not to be partners, but to be under the Iranian expansionist project. And this is a big difference; we have vision 2030 that is moving us forward, and they have vision 1979 that is trying to move the region and Saudi Arabia backward.

INTERVIEWER: I read an article that you wrote recently, that compares Iran to Germany in the 1930s, as in expansionist. And that we’re sort of appeasing Iran for its expansionist policies. Maybe you could elaborate a little bit on that.

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well, what I was trying to say in the op-ed is basically this. The situation in the world, especially in Europe, in the late 1930s, was that back then we had these expansionist ideologies and expansionist countries. We see Nazi Germany moving and taking over Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia, and the solution back then was appease Nazi Germany instead of confronting it. And we remember during the Munich Agreement, when President Chamberlain went back to Britain and held a piece of paper and said this is peace for our time, and it did not work, it led to more expansionism. It led to the invasion of France; London was getting bombed after this.

So, what we want in the region, is that we see the same expansionist concept in the region through the Iranian regime. And we believe that we need to push back on this right now, not to lead to a bigger conflict. Because if you look at the trend in the region throughout these 40 years after the Iranian revolution, we see that Iran has started to build this sectarian terrorist militia in Lebanon, and they bombed embassies, they bombed the marine barracks, they assassinated the prime minister of Lebanon, and they’re trying to copy that model and use the same playbook in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and they’ve been getting away with it.

And now we see more than 160 ballistic missiles launched at a G20 country, toward Saudi Arabia. So, if we do not push back on this, we’ll see more terrorist militias popping up in the region. And let’s remember, Hezbollah in Lebanon is not a domestic threat, Hezbollah is a transnational threat. We see Hezbollah’s money laundering activities throughout the whole world, we see it in Africa and south America. We see their drug activities also throughout the world. And we don’t want another Hezbollah, another transnational threat to appear especially in Yemen, like the Houthis for example. It’s another ‘death to America’ group that we see in the region, and it’s another transnational threat that we’re trying to end. And it will also affect the Red Sea, which 50 percent of world trade passes through.

INTERVIEWER: So let’s talk about Yemen. You said Houthis, you know their slogan is “death to America, death to Israel, death to the Jews,” yet there is collateral damage, it’s now being called a humanitarian crisis, a cholera epidemic. The UN is now getting involved, it [Yemen] has been called Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam. What is happening there and is it a war that you can win?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: First of all, we did not support the Yemeni government to start a war in Yemen. We supported the Yemeni government in the war in Yemen. The party that started the war is the Iranian militia, the Houthis, they started the war in 2014 when they moved from their own hometown to the capital, killing and slaughtering the Yemeni people and threatening the central government of Yemen.

And we had a choice back then, to support the central government in Yemen - the legitimate central government of Yemen - against all terrorist non-state actors: the Houthis and AQAP [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula]. Or, if the Yemeni central government falls, we’re only going to have two terrorist non-state actors: the Houthis and AQAP. That situation, the instability that will happen, and the vacuum that will happen, will help both of them - AQAP and Houthis - and will create more terrorism and instability.

So the only choice we have is to support the Yemeni government, to reinstate the Yemeni government’s control over the country, to fix the Yemeni economy, to create jobs, to have a prosperous Yemen, to improve the humanitarian situation that went downhill after the Houthis’ aggression into Yemen. That is our objective and we’ve been very successful throughout our pressure campaign on the Houthis to sit at the negotiating table, to solve this problem and reach a long-lasting political solution.

We have donated to Yemen more than any country in the world combined. We will continue to support the humanitarian efforts in Saudi Arabia. And during the last Crown Prince visit, Saudi Arabia and the UAE donated to the UN the highest donation in the UN’s history, for the UN humanitarian efforts. We are there to solve it, just like we did in Iraq with the United States. We could not solve the humanitarian situation in Mosul until Mosul was liberated and the government institutions came back to Mosul.

You mentioned Vietnam in your question. Now, Vietnam is 7,000 miles away from the United States. Yemen is our neighbor, and we have more than a 1,000-mile border with Yemen. I am wondering if there was an Iranian proxy, an Iranian militia on the Unites States’ southern border [which was] launching 160 ballistic missiles toward the United States including Washington, what would the United States do?

INTERVIEWER: I think it is made in reference to an unwinnable war. Because you have on one side, you know, Houthi rebels, who say “death to America, death to Israel” but who are also using people as shields for ballistic missiles etc., so you are going to get collateral damage, there is a humanitarian crisis, cholera epidemics, millions of refugees, etc. etc.

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: The only way we end this humanitarian situation once and for all, is to reach a long-lasting political solution based on the UN Security Council resolution 2216, which states clearly that the Yemeni government should reinstate its control over the country, basically.

We have been very supportive of all the previous UN initiatives to reach a political solution. We have done seven ceasefires in the past. We have supported all the UN initiatives. The Houthis have been the party that violates the ceasefire every time. They have been the party who have been the obstacle to reaching peace in Yemen. The former UN envoy said in his last speech at the United Nations that Saudi Arabia is always sitting at the negotiation table and the Houthis have been always walking away. So they are the obstacle, the ball is in their court. They need to choose between being an Iranian militia in Yemen, another Hezbollah in Yemen, launching ballistic missiles and having heavy weapons, or being a political party in Yemen. We want them to be part of Yemen, not part of Iran.

INTERVIEWER: So let’s unpack those countries that we talked about. We have Hezbollah in Lebanon, we have an increasing Iranian presence in Iraq, you have the Houthis in Yemen. So, you’re getting sort of an Iranian presence surrounding Saudi Arabia. I mean right now you have let’s say three proxy conflicts. What happens when it ceases to be a proxy conflict?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: What we want in the region is different to what Iran wants in the region. We want partners, we want stability, we want security – we want countries in the region to be independent. Saudi Arabia has zero proxies in the Middle East. No one can name all the Iranian proxies in one sentence in the Middle East. I do not think the Iraqi people, the Yemeni people, the Lebanese people, want to be part of the Iranian Revolution, part of Tehran. They want to be independent countries, they want to move forward, they want to fix their economy. So, I don’t think the Iranians control the Iraqi people or Iraq, I think Iraqi people must control Iraq, Lebanese people must control Lebanon.

I’ll give you an example of a Saudi role in these areas. I mean, look at Lebanon for example. Saudi Arabia has been very supportive of Lebanon’s political stability. Saudi Arabia, in recent history, has supported Lebanon with more than $5 billion. Recently, in the Paris conference to support Lebanon, Saudi Arabia donated $2 billion. Saudi Arabia’s commercial exchange with Lebanon is $626 million. Saudi Arabian tourists used to be more than 20 percent of the Arab tourists to Lebanon.

So we have been the party that is constructive in Lebanon. We send tourists to Lebanon, Iran sends terrorists to Lebanon. We send businessmen, Iran sends military advisers. We build hotels, we build the tourism sector, we create jobs. Iran creates terrorists. We want Lebanon to be a better country, to be a stronger country, to be more stable. We want the Lebanese people to advance, to be a prosperous country. Iran wants Lebanon to fight its own wars. Iran wants Lebanon to be their own expansionist project in Tehran. If what the Supreme Leader in Iran wants is just about religion, then why do we always see a “Wali al-Faqih”, a supreme leader, who comes from Iran? Why don’t we see a Lebanese Supreme Leader or an Iraqi Supreme Leader that the Iranian mullahs follow? You will never see that because Iran wants to use Lebanon and Iraq and the Lebanese people as tools for their expansionist policies.

INTERVIEWER: So if you look at Lebanon, on one side you have Sunni, in fact this is mandated by the constitution, on the other Shia, and then Druze. But we interviewed [Lebanese former Prime Minister Saad] Hariri for this piece and he was saying: Look, we have a problem, because not only Hezbollah, but we have now two million Syrians, refugees who have come in. They have Palestinian refugees. It seems like he is a sort of bastion of sanity. He is one of the only things holding that country together. His father, famously, was assassinated trying to hold the country together. But there was a kerfuffle recently during the elections or before the elections when he was called to Saudi Arabia. Some people said he was kidnapped. What happened there? Why was he called to Saudi Arabia? What happened in Saudi Arabia and then, you know, he went back?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: I think you asked Saad Hariri, and I think the best answer you can get is from Saad Hariri himself. But let me tell you how we look at Lebanon and Saad Hariri himself. Saad Hariri and his father were Saudi allies and they are Saudi allies and they will continue to be Saudi allies. We want Lebanese stability, we are helping Lebanon to become a more prosperous country. We want to create jobs, we want to move it forward. But look at the party that decreased the stability, it’s not Saudi Arabia. It’s the party that assassinated the prime minister of Lebanon. It’s the party that has used the Lebanese people in a conflict that has nothing to do with Lebanese national security. It’s Hezbollah and Iran.

INTERVIEWER: So, if we look at it though, it seems like kind of a de-escalation on the Israeli conflict, whereas there’s escalation on the Iranian conflict, not just with Saudi Arabia, but with Israel and various other countries. The big question I have when we talk about peace in the Middle East, and that has been a big question for a number of years: It seems like, if you are bringing up the Nazi Germany allegory, that we are heading in the wrong direction. It seems like Iran is expansionist, it is supporting terrorist groups, there is conflict in Yemen, there is conflict in Lebanon, there is conflict in Syria, there is conflict in Iran. Where does it end? How do we get to this peace in the Middle East? How do we move toward some sort of sane solution? Because we seem to be going in the wrong direction.

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: That is a great question and it should be asked to the Iranian regime.

INTERVIEWER: We’ve asked them.

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Because we did not shoot any bullets toward Iran. We are not launching ballistic missiles toward Iran. They are the party that is doing all these malign activities in the Middle East. What I am saying is we need to pressure the Iranian regime to stop these activities that will lead us to a bigger conflict. If we do nothing, just like we did in the past years, it will lead us to a bigger conflict - because five years ago there was no ballistic missile launched toward Saudi Arabia. Twenty years ago, there was no Iranian militia in Iraq. The trend is of a continuous Iranian regime escalation in the region, that will lead to a bigger conflict. But at the same time, the Iranian regime is having its own problems.

They are basically a destructive force, they are creating instability in the region, they have problems with their own country. They are using their domestic politics to serve their foreign policy, the expansionist foreign policy, instead of serving their own people. Look at the Iranian currency right now: It is at its worst position. Look at the Iranian economy: Where is it heading? I believe that the Iranian regime should stop its malign activities and focus on the Iranian people, just like what we are doing in Saudi Arabia. What is happening is the opposite. We, in Saudi Arabia, since 1979, have doubled our GDP. We used to have close GDPs in 1979, now we are more than double the Iranian GDP. Look at the GDP per capita – the Saudi people’s GDP per capita is way more than the Iranians’. Look at life expectancy – if you live in Saudi Arabia, you live four years more than Iran. Look at our health system, look at our education system. Look at our social reforms, our economic reforms in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, there was never a social media platform that was blocked. In Iran, they are continuing to block social media platforms. We are a country that wants to be part of the global system. We are proud of our values, we are proud of our culture, we are modernizing, we are not westernizing or easternizing Saudi Arabia. We are moving forward based on our own values, but we’re moving forward. We have a forward-looking vision; they have a backward-looking vision. We have Vision 2030; they have vision 1979. That is the problem: It is a clash of visions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

INTERVIEWER: There was recently a controversial decision by the Trump administration to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. I say controversial because it was controversial domestically, as well as Europe decided not to go with America. When I talked to [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, he thought that this was a very good thing, but he also said it could lead to increased atomic capabilities by Iran, in which case Israel would have to act. What is Saudi’s position on pulling out of the deal? And also, what will be some of the ramifications if they do try to speed up their atomic program?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: First of all, we stated clearly that we support the President’s decision, because it is exactly right, he’s correct. What the deal did is it temporarily stopped a weapon that the Iranian regime does not have, but it empowered every weapon that the Iranian regime already has – the asymmetric warfare, they’ve increased the budget of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps], they increased the budget of Hezbollah, they’ve increased the budget of the Houthis, and there were way more ballistic missiles launched at the Kingdom after the nuclear deal than before the nuclear deal.

INTERVIEWER: So just to clarify, maybe it’s slowed down or stopped their ability to create an atomic weapon, but it increased funding of Hezbollah, the Houthis, like terrorist groups.

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Yes, what I’m saying is we might have temporarily stopped the weapon of mass destruction, but we’ve created more destruction basically in the Middle East. And this is not the, you know we expected Iran, when we supported President Obama’s decision to sign the deal, to be a responsible actor in the region and to stop their malign activities. But what we saw is negative, basically results. We’ve seen Iran increasing their malign activities, increasing their support to militias in the region, increasing de-stability in the region, so that’s why we support the President’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal.

INTERVIEWER: If he withdraws from the deal, and now that there’s kind of a strife between the US and Europe on this. Iran is increasing its aggressive activities, Israel is sort of getting ready for that, maybe Saudi Arabia is getting ready for that, the GCC is getting ready for that. Doesn’t that mean we’re going in the wrong direction? Doesn’t that mean we’re going away from peace and more toward a conventional war?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well in your question, you said that we’ll be going to the wrong direction. Let me tell you the direction we were heading toward before they withdrew from the nuclear deal. We see more destructive basically activities in Syria, more destructive activities in Iraq, more destructive activities in Lebanon, more destructive activities in Yemen. One hundred and sixty ballistic missiles launched toward Saudi Arabia, including the capital, a G20 country. So Iran’s actions were leading to a bigger conflict. If we pressure Iran, if we make them pay a price for what they do, it’s going to do exactly the opposite. It will basically stop Iran from continuous escalation that will get us a bigger conflict in the region. So that’s why we need to use all our tools and all options that should be on the table.

INTERVIEWER: And what are those tools?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well we need to obviously solve
this diplomatically. We need to increase the economic pressure on Iran to reach basically a better situation in the Middle East.

INTERVIEWER: So in America this seems to be a quagmire, there’s so many different actors, so many different names, so many different acronyms. You know a lot of times it gets simplified to Shia versus Sunni. What are the two biggest things, if you could boil them down, that would lead to – I won’t say peace in the Middle East, that seems too… - but a de-escalation of the tensions?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well first of all, the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not about Sunnis versus Shias. It’s about a clash of visions. We have a forward looking vision to improve our economy, to make our peoples’ lives better in the Kingdom, and to move our society forward. To be able to achieve that objective we want to have a stable, peaceful region around us, a prosperous region. We want to increase basically the economic cooperation. Iran wants to do the opposite. Iran has expansionist policies. They want to basically take over countries in the region. They have these destructive activities in the region that is pulling the region backward, not forward. This is the cause of friction. We have supported the Iraqi government fighting ISIS, and we’re supporting the other side – the Yemeni government fighting Houthis and AQAP. Iran is always on the sectarian side. We were always in the government institution side, Saudi Arabia. And there’s a big difference between our position and the Iranian position.

INTERVIEWER: The Iranians will say that Saudi Arabia has funded, let’s say, Wahhabism, and then therefore the extremism on the Sunni side, what do you have to say to that?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well that is absolutely not true. Who is Osama bin Laden’s number one enemy? Who is ISIS’ number one enemy? What you have to do is listen to them, listen to those terrorists and what they say. Their number one enemy is Saudi Arabia and the United States. Al Qaeda have done zero attacks in Iran, and Saudi Arabia has had more than 130 attacks, throughout our history, in Saudi Arabia, including the Saudi government. So it doesn’t make any sense if we are going to fund basically anything that would threaten our country. Osama bin Laden himself, in his document that was found by the United States in Abbottabad, said clearly that Iran was basically the funder of their activities, and he said Iran helps them also logistically. And he mentioned Iran as a partner against Saudi Arabia and the United States. Listen to what Osama bin Laden said in his documents, and look at what they say also in their audio tapes. They are targeting Saudi Arabia, they are targeting the United States. Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza is in Iran, and he’s issuing audio tapes against Saudi Arabia, from Iran, as we speak.

INTERVIEWER: I’ve been to Iran, I’ve been to Saudi Arabia, and the one thing that strikes me as a very similar between both cultures is they have a very young population, a very young population in Saudi Arabia, a very young population in Iran. In Saudi Arabia there seems to be a tremendous push from the young people for change, for modernization, all different kinds of social movements. You actually see, especially the young people in Tehran who have satellite TV, who have relatives in Los Angeles or in London, somewhat have the same mindset. Why is it so completely different politically? Because you’ve got young people who seem to not be that far apart, but politically it seems to be everyone is moving a million miles an hour in a different direction.

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Yes. Here’s the big difference. First of all, I think the Iranian people are great people. I think the Iranian people want to build their country. They want to move it forward, and they deserve better. The big difference is there are extremists in Saudi Arabia, but they are on the run, and they are a minority. There are extremists in Iran, but they are running the country and they are a minority basically. And that’s the big difference between us and Iran. You mention the Iranian people living abroad, including in the United States, there are millions of people, millions of Iranians living in the United States, in Germany, in other countries in Europe. Have you seen a Saudi minority that lives in Europe or the United States? We have sent hundreds of thousands of students to the United States. More than 98 percent of them come back. Why? What’s the reason? Because they have hope, they want to move their country forward, they feel their country is going toward the right direction. And even the 1.5 percent that continues to stay in the United States, they are working at Google, YouTube, and other companies in the United States. Their future project is in Saudi. They want to come back because Saudi Arabia’s ambition is to serve their own citizens to move their country forward. It’s different from the Iranian regime, the extremist regime in Iran.

INTERVIEWER: A couple of more questions; I know you’re busy. If you talk to the Iranians, they say the Saudis have American military bases, you know, Turkey is a sort of a NATO member, Pakistan, they’ll say is a home of extremism, and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Taliban and the American army. They portray themselves as surrounded. What do you have to say about that?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: First of all, there is no US base in Saudi Arabia currently. Second of all, if what you’re telling me is the Iranian action – is that a reaction? I don’t think that’s true. If it’s a reaction, why did they bomb a building in Argentina in 1994? Why did they assassinate an opposition leader in Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, Germany? Why did they try to assassinate a Saudi ambassador in Washington? Why did they create a militia in Nigeria for example? Sectarian terrorist militias like Hezbollah in Nigeria. What they do is what they say is written in the constitution. They want to export the revolution through any means possible, and that’s what they’ve been doing since 1979. The strategic goal never changed. Their tactics have changed throughout the 40 years that have passed. And that’s what they’ve been doing since 1979.

INTERVIEWER: A lot has been made about the new leadership in your country, yourself and your brother. Can you please tell us where you see the region going forward in the next five to 10 years?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: What I see in Saudi Arabia under the King’s leadership and the Crown Prince, we have an ambitious, exciting plan to move our economy forward, to move our society forward, to move our country forward, to improve education, health system, to improve our economy, to create basically an environment for tourism, to create basically an entertainment, to invest inside and outside Saudi Arabia. And we’ve been very successful since we announced this Vision 2030. And I believe that countries in the region should replicate what Saudi Arabia is doing. We should be forward looking countries.

We are proud of our past. Our past is bright, but we should look at the future as brighter. And that’s our vision. People in the region should not be basically used by ISIS or Al Qaeda or the Iranian regime to fight their own wars. They should basically work to improve their countries, to move their countries forward, to have prosperous economy, to make basically, to create jobs, to create opportunities, and that’s what we’re looking for in Saudi Arabia.

INTERVIEWER: But if you’re moving forward, and let’s say UAE is moving forward, Bahrain and certain places, what happens if Iran says no, and we’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing? We’re going to keep on expanding, we’re going to keep on sponsoring –

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well, we in Saudi Arabia and the international community should work together to push back on any country that is violating international law, a country that is basically pulling the world backward, a country that is creating terrorist militia; that’s the only option. And that’s exactly what I said in my op-ed. We need to push back on these activities before we reach a bigger conflict that we all do not want.

INTERVIEWER: So also referenced in your op-ed, you quote Alireza Zakani, who says there are three Arab capitals that are already subsidiaries of the Islamic Revolution: Beirut, Baghdad, and Damascus. So if that’s the case, where do they stop?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well they mentioned four capitals, Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, and they count the fourth one as Sana in Yemen. I don’t think the Yemeni people want to be basically invaded by the Iranian regime. They want their country to be independent, and they should be independent. They have a great country and great people. Neither do the Lebanese people want to be part of Iran, just like what Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah said, in one of his videos, old videos. That Lebanon should not be an independent country, it should be a part of the Iranian expansionist ideology basically. I don’t think the Lebanese people want that, I don’t think the Iraqi people want that, I don’t think the Syrian people want that. I don’t think anyone in the region wants to be part of Iran. They want to make their country better and to move it forward.

INTERVIEWER: It seems that there’s the region and there’s Iran, and people are uniting in the region against Iran. Does his Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman support regime change in Iran?

PRINCE KHALID BIN SALMAN: Well in Saudi Arabia our policy is we do not interfere in countries’ domestic politics. It’s up to the Iranian people to decide. It’s not up to us. But we see the Iranian people protesting, we see the Iranian people unhappy, because the regime instead of basically fixing the economy, reforming the economy and serving the Iranian people, they’ve been basically spending all that money on activities in the region that has nothing to do with the Iranian people, the Iranian economy, it doesn’t serve the Iranian national security and the Iranian people.

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