Mohammed bin Salman says in Atlantic interview he is the real victim of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

In wide-ranging interviews that began with a wild goose chase, two Atlantic journalists sat down with the infamous crown prince of Saudi Arabia, 36-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, and got him to touch his softer side.

MBS, as he is commonly known, has not spoken to the western press for more than two years, so it remains questionable why he would do so now. But he told it the Atlantic during two separate interviews that he feels like doing he is the true victim of the murder of Washington Post Writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate Office in Istanbul in 2018.

No matter that the CIA, a UN investigation, and most of the world holds the pariah prince personally responsible for what is believed to be the torture, dismemberment, and disappearance of Khashoggi’s body. MBS told them he was the real victim and that the injustice was against him, insisting that “the Khashoggi incident was the worst thing that ever happened to me because it could have ruined all my plans.”

When asked during the first interview in the king’s remote COVID hideout if he ordered the murder, he laughed at the journalists’ question, saying instead that he had little idea who the dissident journalist was – whose life constantly depends on his own government was threatened -was. And besides, if they had a kill list of, say, 1,000 enemies of the kingdom, Khashoggi wasn’t important enough to even make the list. “I’ve never read a Khashoggi article in my life,” he said, before gloomily insisting the work would have been cleaner if he’d ordered it. “If we did it like that, Khashoggi wouldn’t even be in the top 1,000 people on the list. If you decide to have another operation like this, for someone else, it has to be professional and it has to be in the top 1,000.

He went on to insist that the whole incident was painful. “It hurt me and it hurt Saudi Arabia from an emotional point of view,” he said. “I understand the anger, especially among journalists. I respect her feelings. But we also have feelings here, pain here.”

In the second interview with the crown prince, this time in Riyadh, he went further and said how his rights had been violated, in what he appears to have dubbed the “Khashoggi affair” rather than calling it a murder. “I feel that human rights have not been applied to me,” he said the Atlantic. “Article XI of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every person is innocent until proven guilty.”

MBS also had little affection for President Joe Biden, who has declined to meet with him over the “Khashoggi affair.” He was asked if Biden “misunderstood something about him,” to which the crown prince said, “Simple, I don’t care.” He then insisted that alienating the kingdom would hurt Biden more than himself. “It’s on him to think about America’s interests,” he apparently shrugged to reporters. “Do it.”

He then described the Kingdom’s burgeoning relationship with China, which appreciates the unique opportunities the Kingdom offers. “Where is the potential in the world today?” he said. “It’s in Saudi Arabia. And if you want to miss it, I think other people in the East will be super happy.”

In comments to The Saudi news agency SPA published by Reuters On Thursday, MBS went even further to alienate the US, even hinting that the kingdom’s $800 billion investment in US interests was expendable. “Just as we have the opportunity to increase our interests, we have the opportunity to reduce them,” he told the news outlet.

The extensive Atlantic Profil also touched on a list of MBS scandals greatest hits, including the months-long arrest of several of his family members at a Ritz-Carlton hotel on corruption charges. While it was a detention with little due process, MBS described it to him Atlantic as something else. “But for him it was an elegant and, incidentally, non-violent solution to the problem of vampires feasting on the kingdom’s annual budget,” they write.

While highly suspicious of MBS’s claims of being a victim of Khashoggi, the profile humanizes him with details of his breakfast routine with his children and his favorite binge-watching show on US television (game of Thrones) and his most disliked (house of cards). And it gives him due credit for modernizing the kingdom, notably by granting more freedoms to women, including the right to drive.

But he refused to address Loujain al-Hathloul, the most famous of Saudi Arabia’s women’s rights activists, who served in prison from 2018 to 2021 on “terrorism charges” where her family says she was regularly electrocuted, beaten and threatened with being “chopped up and chopped up” thrown down a sewer never to be found,” which the Saudi government denies. She is prohibited from speaking publicly or traveling abroad as part of her probation. Mohammed bin Salman says in Atlantic interview he is the real victim of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

Russell Falcon

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