In an interview that aired just days before the one-year anniversary of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and presumed murder, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman sat for an interview with 60 Minutes – reportedly the most extensive interview he has ever given to a Western media outlet.
During the nearly 15-minute discussion with ’60 Minutes’ correspondent Norah O’Donnell (in an interview that, fittingly, was aired during ’60 Minutes’ 52nd season premier), MbS addressed every controversy afflicting his regime: tensions with Iran and the recent attacks on Abqaiq, the murder of Khashoggi, MbS’s hopes for peace in Yemen and the arrest of female activists despite MbS’s landmark gender reforms like granting women the right to drive.
The two issues from the interview that garnered the most attention were MbS’s insistence that he wasn’t aware of the plot to kill Khashoggi (but that he ‘accepts responsibility’, as a leader should), and the disruption in global oil supplies – triggering a spike in global prices – that could result from a war with Iran (just look at how global benchmarks responded to the attack on Abqaiq, with the largest one-day spike since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait).
Asked point-blank whether he ordered Khashoggi’s murder, MbS replied “absolutely not” and described the attack as a “heinous crime” (all via a translator).
“Absolutely not. This was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”
When pressed about how he could’ve been unaware of a mission in which some of his closest associates participated, MbS insisted that it would be ‘impossible’ for him to monitor what KSA’s 3 million government employees do on a daily basis.
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