Prince Turki Al Faisal addressed the journalist's murder as well as US-Saudi relations
Killing of Jamal Khashoggi is like killing all of humanity says former Saudi ambassador to US
Quoting a Quranic verse, Prince Turki Al Faisal said that taking an innocent life is like killing all of humanity when speaking about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last month.
Giving an address at the 27th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference at the National Council on US-Arab Relations on Wednesday, the former Saudi ambassador to the US discussed the murder of the former government insider turned self-exiled critic of the kingdom as well as the close relationship between Riyadh and Washington.
Although he pointed to challenges – such as the oil crisis in the 1970s or the “tragic day” of 9/11 – he said the two countries' relationship was “thicker than water”.
However, he said that in the wake of the killing of Khashoggi there had been an “onslaught and demonisation of Saudi Arabia” with “intensity and gleefulness … [that is] unfair and malicious.
“Subjecting our relationship to this issue is not healthy at all. Saudi Arabia is committed to bringing to justice those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and anybody else who failed in upholding the law. Justice will run its course," he said.
Khashoggi had worked with Prince Turki as a media adviser between 2003 and 2007 when he was an ambassador in London and then Washington.
Saudi public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb, who has overseen the investigation into the murder, visited Istanbul this week to discuss the case with his Turkish counterpart.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman publicly denounced the murder as "repulsive" and officials have said it was an unsanctioned killing carried out by security officials without the knowledge of the country’s leaders.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir confirmed on Saturday that six people had been dismissed as part of the Saudi investigation.
However, on Wednesday evening top Turkish prosecutor Irfan Fidan said Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and his body was dismembered before it was removed.
The US has called for a thorough explanation for the killing and senators triggered an investigation that could lead to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 on Saudi nationals involved in the death.
“From this podium I have said many times that our relationship is too big to fail, I believe it will survive this crisis," Prince Turki said.
He described the kingdom as the “centre of the Islamic world to which 1.5 billion worshipers turn to pray five times a day”. He said the kingdom plays an important role working with the US to end conflict across the Middle East. “The kingdom provides more than 4 per cent, per capita in aid to poor and developing nations. Only yesterday the kingdom forgave $6bn of debt to those poor countries. We are an asset to our friends, not a burden," Prince Turki said.
However, he also had a warning for those he said had “banded” around the word values to damage the Saudi-US relationship.
“One value that we hold dearly is attributed to the prophet Jesus … which says that ‘people in glass houses should not throw stones'," he said.
“Countries that have tortured and incarcerated innocent people and that launched a war that killed many thousands of people based on fabricated information should be humble in their regard to others and countries that have persecuted and disappeared journalist and other individuals should not pose as champions of free speech," Prince Turki warned.
He said that over the years, Saudi Arabia’s close relationship with the US had cost it dearly in its image across the Arab world. “We bore that cost because we believed in the value of our friendship,” he said.
The other value that Saudi Arabia upholds is the idea from the Quran that “the killing of an innocent person is like the killing of all of humanity … the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is like killing all of humanity”, the former ambassador said.
But he also asked why there was not similar outrage at the deaths of young people in Gaza, where nearly 200 people have been killed and more than 17,000 wounded in six months of demonstrations against Israeli policy.
“Innocent, unarmed Palestinian children are slaughtered every day by the Israeli army … and yet I do not see the same media frenzy and demand to bring the perpetrators, and whoever ordered them to kill those children, to justice," he said.
“While reforming and transforming, our fight against the forces of darkness continues,” Prince Turki said. “We stand up to the hegemonic ambitions of the Iranian leadership which, as we are witnessing in Denmark’s actions, never ceases to export its terrorist activities.”
Denmark this week revealed an Iranian plot to assassinate an opponent of Tehran last month, shortly after gunmen killed 25 people in Iran’s city of Ahvaz. Police shut down the capital Copenhagen in a major manhunt that thwarted the attempted assassination of an opposition figure, the Danish security chief said on Tuesday.