Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took the stage yesterday at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, making his first public comments since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul grabbed the world’s attention.
The Crown Prince did not shy away from the topic, and opened with addressing what he and the Saudi government deemed a “heinous crime” whose perpetrators would be prosecuted and brought to justice.
Crown Prince Mohammed also noted that the government of Saudi Arabia was working with Turkey, and that attempts to undermine or dive a wedge between the Saudi-Turkish relationship would not work.
Today, Saudi Arabian authorities changed their account of how journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, for the first time calling his death a “premeditated” murder.
“This incident is completely heinous and unjustified. Today, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is taking all legal measures to probe and complete all investigations, in cooperation with the Turkish government, in order to reach findings and bring all culprits to justice to receive deterrent punishment. This measure is what any government should do in such cases. The cooperation between the Saudi and Turkish governments is distinct,” the Crown Prince said.
“We know that many are trying to exploit this painful situation to drive a wedge between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. I want to send a message to them from this platform that they will not be able to do so as long as King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and President Erdogan are in office. Such rift will not happen and we will prove to the world that the two governments are cooperating to punish any criminal and culprit and justice will prevail.”
While the Khashoggi case overshadowed the conference, the Crown Prince rejected any suggestion that his program of reform would be derailed.
“There are no challenges that you can put in front of this great Saudi nation,” he said. “Our projects are ongoing, our reforms are ongoing, our war on extremism is ongoing and our war on terror is ongoing.”
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also notably softened his language regarding Qatar, with which the Kingdom has had no diplomatic relations since June 2017.
Many reactions on social media from Saudis praised the Crown Prince’s performance at the FII event.