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Deputy Crown Prince: No Points of Agreement with Iran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waves in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 11, 2017. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that there were no points of agreement with Tehran, noting that the Iranian regime was based on “extremist ideologies stipulated in its constitution.”

In a 50-minute interview with Journalist Dawood Al-Shiryan, which was aired on Tuesday by Saudi media channels, Prince Mohammed said: “How to talk with a person or a regime that has a firm conviction that its system is based on an ideology of extremism enshrined in its Constitution and stipulated in the command of Khomeini.”

“Reaching the Qiblah of Muslims is a main goal for the Iranian regime. We will not wait until the battle becomes in Saudi Arabia but we will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Asked about the means to find a solution to the crisis in Syria, the deputy crown prince described the situation in Syria as “very complex”.

“There is no doubt that former US President Barack Obama missed a lot of important opportunities in which there could have been a very big change in Syria,” he noted, adding: “Today Syria has become an international issue. Russia, a major country, is there. The US is there. All the five major countries are there. Any friction among these countries may cause a crisis that far greater than the Middle East crisis.”

On Yemen, Prince Mohammed said that war was not a choice for Saudi Arabia, but was something inevitable.

“It is true that we were trying to make a political initiative to avoid war and we were opening a discussion line at that time, provided they [Houthi rebels] did not approach Aden, because if they approached Aden, it would be very difficult to discuss a political solution,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the desired result did not happen and were forced to enter operations,” the prince added.

He also denied rumors about disagreements between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the war in Yemen, stressing that enemies were seeking to create “as much rumors as possible among allies.”

Regarding the Kingdom’s relations with Egypt, the deputy crown prince said they were “excellent”.

“The Saudi-Egyptian relationship is a strong and solid relationship,” he stated.

He noted in this regard that the two countries have always stood by each other.

“No negative attitude has been taken by the Egyptian government towards Saudi Arabia, and no single negative attitude has been taken by the Saudi government towards the Egyptian government,” the prince stressed.

On the internal level, the deputy crown prince said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has contributed to “great achievements” since its adoption.

“I think that great achievements have so far been reached. Having a look from 50,000 feet altitude, we will find that the proportion of deficit is less than what has been forecast by all analysts, both at home and abroad, for 2015 and 2016 and also for the 2017 budget,” he stated.

Prince Mohammed went on to say that non-oil revenues nearly doubled over the past two years from nearly SR 111 billion to about SR 200 billion.

He added that Vision 2030 would be implemented through its three-faceted programs: the first phase runs until 2020, the second ends in 2025 and the third will be completed in 2030.

The deputy crown prince, who is also chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), said that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) was one of the most important pillars of Vision 2030.

Asked about Aramco’s role, Prince Mohammed said Aramco’s IPO would provide huge sums to the PIF, adding: “This Fund will help to target many sectors inside and outside Saudi Arabia, and one of the most important sectors is the mining sector.”

The deputy crown prince underlined the importance of programs included in Vision 2030, which would stimulate the private sector “very strongly”.

“Sales to the private sector will increase very strongly,” he stated, adding that the coming years would witness a high government capital expenditure along with spending from the reserves mentioned in the financial balance program to develop the private sector.

Prince Mohammed stated that after Aramco’s IPO, “the Public Investment Fund will spend in Saudi Arabia more than SR500 billion in just three years.”

“You can imagine this spending in the military industry, the automotive industry, the entertainment industry or tourism industry or other industries, which will have an impact on the private sector, and will strongly stimulate their sales in all sectors, whether in retail, transportation or service sector,” the prince said.