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Monday, July 15, 2024

How Pakistan & Saudi Arabia had defeated Soviets in Afghanistan

Prince Turki Al Faisal, who headed Saudi Intelligence for 24 long years, sat down with Moeed Pirzada and Najma Minhas at the sidelines of Salzburg Forum in 2017 to explain how Pakistan Saudi Arabia and the US had fought together in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation.

GVS: In our part of the world you are still remembered as the person who headed Saudi Intelligence for 24 long years. It was also the time period when Saudi Arabia and Pakistan joined in a war effort resisting the Soviet Union’s occupation and control of Afghanistan. What brought Saudi Arabia into this war?

Prince Turki: The initial phase of Pakistan’s engagement in the war was way beyond my appointment as the Director of Intelligence. Since the establishment of the state of Pakistan, the two countries had close relations on all the issues such as politics, security, social issues, and much more.

So it was no surprise that when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and seemed to be on the brink of invading Pakistan, that our two countries realized that we should come together; not only for the benefit of Pakistan but also for the benefit of the whole world at that time.

GVS: Did you assess that there was a serious possibility of the Soviet Union actually invading Pakistan?

Prince Turki: Very much so. Since when you look at that time – it was the late 70’s and the Soviet Union was enjoying its most successful years since the establishment of communism in Russia.

With the breakdown of the US security system after Watergate and the dismantling by American institutions -in particular, Congress – of US intelligence agencies and preventing them from engaging with other agencies in meeting the rising challenges of the spread of communism, particularly in Africa but also in Asia.

Image result for Prince Turki Al Faisal"

In Southeast Asia, if you remember after the withdrawal of the Americans, in 1975, there was a domino effect. Countries were turning towards communism. All the way from the Chinese border down to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Belt of Mozambique, and in the East African shoreline and across Africa to the Atlantic, countries were turning Communist in those years.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, it was believed not just in Saudi Arabia, but also in the world community and particularly in Pakistan that the Soviets would make an attempt to reach through Pakistan to the warm waters.

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GVS: But subsequent revisionist historians argue that the Soviets were worried about instability in Central Asia and that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan were conspiring through Afghanistan to make instability.

Prince Turki: Those revisionist views were not present at that time in the 1970s when Soviets invaded and it seemed at that time that Pakistan was definitely the next target of USSR. Hence, the then Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, engaged with King Khalid and Crown Prince Fahd to get a program going to support Pakistan, to prevent the Soviets from invading it.

If you remember from mid-1970s, Pakistan hosted Afghan groups that had been operating against the Daud government in Afghanistan, which was composed of Marxist parties, including Parcham and other branches of Communist parties in Afghanistan. These groups were identified as the means to engage the Soviet Union in Afghanistan so that they will not invade Pakistan.

GVS: You mentioned General Zia-ul-Haq. Did you personally interact with him?


Prince Turki: I interacted with him very much. The emissary who came to see King Khalid at that time with a proposition to work together was the late General Akhter Abdur Rehman, who was the head of ISI at that time.

Pakistanis not only made a formal request but asked for an engagement: that we have a common problem, lets work together, to meet this challenge and of course there was a very positive response from King Khalid and Crown Prince Fahd.

Because he (general) was representing ISI, I was delegated by King Khalid and Crown Prince Fahd to be the man who corresponds with General Akhter Abdur Rehman.

I was instructed to go to Pakistan and engage with President Zia-ul-Haq and to see what needs to be done to formulate this program to oppose the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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GVS: What kind of a person did you find General Zia-ul-Haq to be..?

Prince Turki: He was a very steady and smart person with a geo-strategic mind, particularly after the invasion by Soviets. He was very dedicated in preventing the Soviet invasion of Pakistan. So it was very easy to identify who the enemy was and what the reason was for defending Pakistan.

GVS: Reflecting back, how did you find ISI as an agency?

Prince Turki: I find them very much capable, they knew very well what they were doing. As I mentioned that they had already been in contact with and directing the Afghan opposition groups that were based in Islamabad and Peshawar at that time.

They were also in the process of dealing with the situation in Afghanistan even before the Soviet invasion. Basically, they knew what they were doing.

GVS: At what point did the CIA become a partner in this war?

Prince Turki: Almost immediately; soon after the visit of General Akhter Abdur Rehman to USA., Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s, National Security Advisor visited Pakistan.

There was a famous photograph of him, visiting the Khyber Pass with Pakistani officials and sitting with them on the rocks of one of the mountains in the Khyber Pass, holding a rifle pointing at Afghanistan.

Then from Pakistan, he came to Saudi Arabia with a similar proposition, that we have to do something to help Pakistan. Nobody was talking about liberating Afghanistan at that time, because it seemed fait accompli that the Soviets were already in full control of Afghanistan. The whole concept of working together was to defend Pakistan from becoming the next target.

GVS: When did the idea come of defeating the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan?

Prince Turki: The idea developed with time, as the Mujahedeen succeeded in stemming the Soviet tide and actually defeating the Soviet military deployment in Afghanistan. Then it seemed to be possible that the Soviets could be pushed out of Afghanistan.

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GVS: This Afghan Jihad and Mujahedeen’s have subsequently been criticized massively by Western and Muslim writers. Do you and Pakistanis regret creating these Mujahedeen groups or not handling them properly?

Prince Turki: I can’t speak for Pakistan, but Saudi Arabia never regretted in providing aid to Mujahedeen and I don’t think they will ever regret that. The Afghan Jihad underwent two phases, the phase against Soviet Union starting in 1979 with their invasion until Soviet withdrawal ten years later in 1989.

The second phase started post-Soviet withdrawal when it became a civil war. So Saudi, Pakistani and American partnership in helping the Mujahedeen lasted during ten years of Soviet presence in Afghanistan. When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, the first thing the Americans did was to immediately shutdown the program, and not only that but they also turned their backs on Pakistan.

Pakistan was sanctioned for developing nuclear facilities at that time. [1990 sanctions under the Pressler Amendment] There was a contract that the US had agreed, pre-soviet withdrawal, to allow Pakistan to buy F-16 aircraft.

That contract was abrogated by the Americans. Although the planes were manufactured, but remained in America until the next time America engaged with Pakistan, after September 11, 2001. America not only turned its back on Pakistan but on Afghanistan as well.

GVS: You being the head of intelligence agency, all the information was flowing towards you. Do you see America’s foreign policy short-sighted?

Prince Turki: It wasn’t so much short-sighted as such, but I think they identified their objective as Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. When that objective ended they simply left. They turned their backs on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We tried to engage with them from 1989 till I left my post in 2001 and I was always talking to all their [American] officials not just CIA, but at the highest levels. When George Bush was succeeded by Clinton, I and other Saudi officials who met with Clinton, tried to interest him in engaging with what was happening in Afghanistan – without much success.

They appointed a roving Ambassador on Afghanistan, Hunter Thompson. But basically, they refused to be drawn back into engaging with Afghanistan. Although the Pakistani government had to engage with Afghanistan because it was on their border.

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GVS: What are your reflections on the emergence of Afghan Taliban in 1994?

Prince Turki: Well, the Taliban came as a consequence of a civil war that erupted between Afghan Mujahedeen groups. Basically between Ahmed Shah Massoud and Hekmatyar.

The civil war turned into a static war between Afghans, it gave an opportunity for the Taliban to rise up, with the Pakistani help by the way, to begin their program of pacifying Afghanistan, which at the very beginning was very successful.

GVS: But many writers think that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan tried to convince America to recognize Taliban in 1990’s so that stability in Afghanistan and Central Asia could be achieved?

Prince Turki: Saudi Arabia did recognize the government of Taliban that was established in 1996-97, when they took over Kabul, but with one proviso. I remember when I met the Taliban leaders in 1995, who were at that time trying to spread out of Kandahar and to take over Jalalabad and other cities in Afghanistan.

My message was: as long as there is fighting between Afghans, we are not going to give a penny either to Taliban or any other group in Afghanistan. You have to stop fighting and then we will be able to help you with development and aid.

GVS: Did you try in your capacity to try to convince Washington to accept Taliban as a legitimate government and what were their reservations?

Prince Turki: Yes, we did. As I told you, America was not interested, they would say we will study the situation and then they would let it go at that. I am sure they had their reasons, whatever those were. If you look at the memoirs of Bill Clinton, memoirs of Secretary of State and Ambassador Thompson, they explained their reasons which were basically that Afghanistan did not measure up to be a point of interest for United States.

They simply wished it to go away without bothering them. I remember in late 1995, I suggested to the Late King Fahd that Saudi Arabia should try to convince all the parties around Afghanistan, and inside Afghanistan of the need of establishing peaceful solution to the civil war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan defeated Soviets

These were based on the following principles: all parties including Iran, America, Russia, and Saudi Arabia and of course Pakistan should embark on an embargo of arms supplies to Afghanistan. Simply seal off the borders from everywhere to stop the arms that were coming in and fueling the conflict between Ahmed Shah Massoud and Hekmatyar.

The second point was to establish a National Army in Afghanistan by implementing an enforced ceasefire by all the countries around Afghanistan. The third was to start an economic development program that would give them a reason to stop fighting each other and take care of themselves, their family and children.

And of course King Fahd agreed to this, and my first step was to take it to Pakistan. I met the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her advisor Gen Naseerullah Babar, minister of interior.

When we started hearing about Taliban in 1995, and that they had taken over Kandahar. I remember sitting with General Babar and he was telling me that your Highness you should meet this new group of Taliban from Kandahar. He described them as ‘my boys’.

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GVS: We heard this statement and do you think it was an exaggeration. Maybe, Taliban was not his creation and he was taking credit for them?

Prince Turki: He may have been but he was definitely proud of them. In my personal estimation, they rose out of what was happening in Afghanistan, and taking credit for them and beginning to provide support to them came afterwards.

GVS: You interacted with late Benazir Bhutto as well, what are your reflections regarding her?

Prince Turki: Well she was definitely the lady of the state and had of course Pakistan’s interest at heart. She was her father’s daughter, she had an agenda for Pakistan that was development and coming out of the rut of military rule in Pakistan, etc. She had huge challenges in front of her.

GVS: I don’t know if this has been true or not but there has been a persistent assumption in Pakistani media that Saudi establishment didn’t like Benazir Bhutto?

Prince Turki: Well, I think the facts belie that assumption. Benazir Bhutto’s first trip abroad after she became Prime Minister of Pakistan was to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah. I remember she met with King Fahd in Mecca. The economic and other agreements that had been established before between the two countries were continued and supplemented with her government.

So there were never any negative Saudi reflections for Benazir Bhutto. Even to the point, I remember that someone from Pakistan, very insidiously sent a question to the Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, asking him if it was okay for a Muslim country to be ruled by a woman.

Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz was very clever, he said I can see no text in Muslim theology to prevent that, and that it was an issue for the Pakistani people to decide on.

GVS: Where does Al-Qaeda fit into Bin Laden thing, and did anybody at any time in American, Pakistani and Saudi Intelligence agencies ever realized that this is going to be an international problem?

Prince Turki: This was an issue of an accumulation of information as they began to operate. Bin laden from 1980’s to 1989’s was fully engaged in supporting the Mujahedeen. He was never an operative of CIA and Saudi Intelligence.

The Saudi, American and Pakistani officials were always very careful of two things. First, the cooperation we had, could never be blamed on either Saudi Arabia, or America or Pakistan, by the Soviets. So we were very careful that nothing could be proved either in a court of law or in any field of knowledge and used by the Soviets as an excuse against either of us.

Pakistan defeated SovietsTherefore, this meant that we would never operate with anybody who could be captured and could confess to be an agent of Americans or Saudis that would give the Soviets a reason to retaliate. There were many attempts by the Soviets to do that.

If you look at their record for some of the criminal trials they held for the people they arrested in Afghanistan; the accusations were that they were working for either ISI, Saudi Intelligence or CIA. But they could never prove that and that was an important qualification for all our work.

The second qualification was that none of the material that was given to Mujahedeen could be traced back to either Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or United States. Bin Laden came with humanitarian and monetary support for the Mujahedeen. He based himself in Peshawar where there were refugees. I think there were two cities that were hosting the refugees, Quetta and Peshawar, and there were camps of millions of Afghans.

There were groups of NGOs that were working from Pakistan, America, Middle East, and Europe and as far as Japan. And that’s where he (OBL) operated. In these camps, he brought to shelter, food, money and he connected with the Mujahideen leaders to give them these kinds of support.

He utilized some of the material from his late father’s engineering construction company, to bring it to Pakistan, to help the Mujahideen inside Afghanistan. To build shelters, to take care of housing, schools in areas under Mujahedeen control.

But he was never a fighter with the Mujahideen, and there is an interesting interview that he gave to the Mujahedeen publication, “Jihad Magazine”, in which he described the first battle in which he engaged in Afghanistan, near Jalalabad, and just across the border from Pakistan. In an interview to that Magazine he was asked about that engagement.

Bin Laden said that he brought material to Mujahedeen to build shelter, during one such occasion he said that he came under attack from Soviet aircraft and tanks and he fainted due to bombing. He said that when he opened his eyes, he saw that all the Soviet military equipment had been destroyed. I think he said that it was an act of God. That was the only military engagement he ever had with Mujahedeen.

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 GVS: How Bin Laden turned out to be an icon for anti-Americanism and Anti-West?

Prince Turki: By 1988, he had established what we call a ‘hosting house’ for Arab mujahadeen. Where he along with Abdullah Azzam, a member of Palestinian Brotherhood, who devoted his life, after the Soviet invasion, to help Afghanistan.

When Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian, was asked about, why he was not fighting in Palestine against Israel and why in Afghanistan; he offered an interesting theological and religious interpretation of his engagement.

Pakistan defeated Soviets

His explanation was that the Afghan jihad is a pure Muslim jihad since it involved only Muslims. Whereas, the Palestinian jihad involved communists, socialists, and others against the Israelis, so that is why it would not count as true jihad.

And it was Bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and Aymen-al-Zawahiri who had come over from Egypt, a couple of years earlier, having fled Egypt because the Egyptian Government was out to arrest him…at the end of 1989 and beginning of 1990’s, they turned that hosting house as the base for Al-Qaeda.

 GVS: At what point did Saudi Intelligence Agencies determine that Bin Laden was a global threat?

Prince Turki: From 1990 to 1991, after establishing Al-Qaeda in Peshawar, in their hosting house. He came back to Saudi Arabia to recruit more men to continue with the jihad. This is when the Saudi government arrested him and told him to stop instigating this activity of recruiting people to go to Afghanistan.

Because as far as we were concerned, the jihad ended when Afghans started fighting each other. He was taken in by authorities and was made to sign an affidavit that he would halt all his activities, but he started recruiting once again as soon as he was released after a month or two.

 GVS: What steps did you and Pakistan take to stop him?

Prince Turki: That was the beginning of his proselytizing. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait took place, Bin Laden contacted the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Prince Sultan, and said that he was ready to bring his army from Afghanistan to drive Saddam Hussein out of Iraq.

And of course, Prince Sultan told him, thank you but don’t call us, we will call you. This was the second rejection he got for a proposition he had made. Earlier in 1988, when it was clear that the Soviets were about to withdraw from Afghanistan, he came to my office in Jeddah and said that he would like to carry the fight against the communists to South Yemen.

At that time, South Yemen was a Marxist regime which was supported by the Soviet Union. His family originally comes from South Yemen. At that time too, I told him,” Thank you very much, don’t call us, we will call you.”

So within two years, he got his proposition rejected twice, first by me on South Yemen and then by Late Prince Sultan of Kuwait. That is where he began to identify Saudi Arabia as an enemy. Because in his concept, the jihad did not end and that it had to continue.

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GVS: But how did this take an Anti-American form?

Prince Turki: I think this was the influence of people like Abdullah Azzam and Aymen Al Zawahiri on Bin Laden. Bin Laden wasn’t an intellectual per se. Though he had charisma definitely, a very subdued charisma. If you look at his interviews, he tries to put on the airs of a saintly sheik, speaking in the soft tone and slowly, and his overall physique, all helped to attract people.

 GVS: Did you ever made this categorical determination that he was personally responsible for 9/11 or other attacks?

Prince Turki: I did, I reached that conclusion. I didn’t know about it before, but from what I saw of his statement in recorded interviews, where he describes how he toppled the towers and how the explosions of the towers exceeded far beyond, from what they expected…

In my view, Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were responsible and he chose the people who undertook the actions on September 11, 2001. If you see the interrogation of Sheikh Muhammad and others who were involved in setting up September 11, they all talk of having selected a team to go and do this deed.

And when they took the proposition to Bin Laden, he scrapped all of the people who were involved in it and selected himself the 19 persons in the team, with 15 of them being Saudis, 2 Yemenis.

He was the one who chose Saudis. I think there was a reason for that because his main aim was to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States. He considered the United States and Saudi Arabia to be in partnership with him.

GVS: Moving forward, you are aware of the argument of the Western media now picked up by many people in the Muslim world: that Saudi’s were responsible in 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s for funding Madrassahs and theological education which has led to Wahhabi extremism in the world. Initially, it was the western notion but many Muslims now argue the same. What is your response to this?

Prince Turki: My response to that is whoever has the information for that please come and tell us, don’t simply make accusations. Tell us which schools Saudi Arabia has financed, give us names, give us bank accounts, but don’t simply hurl accusations without any proofs.

Because from my experience, as then Head of Saudi Intelligence, yes there were Saudi contributions going to various charitable works, not just in Pakistan but throughout the world; even in Europe and in America but there wasn’t any ideological reason for that. It was not to spread Wahhabi teachings, it was more a response to the requests that came from the communities.

GVS: Do you think, there is something in Wahabism that might lead to extremism?

Prince Turki: Not from my practice of Wahabism. I consider myself to be fortunate for being a direct descendant of Sheikh Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahab and the Amir Muhammad Bin Saud. They got together in 1743 in the center of Riyadh, to spread the word in Arabian Peninsula about ‘Al-Tawheed.’

It was a unitarian effort to remove the practices that were undertaken by Muslims at the time, practices that had become superstitious and that had taken on a very doubtful ‘shirk’ issues, like worshipping trees, or rocks or venerating individuals in the center of Arabia.

There is a book by an American scholar, which using the original documents from Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab, proves that in the original Wahabi teachings none of the issues exist, that have later come to be attributed to it, such as the violence and exclusion of those from other taqfir.

That union between Sheikh Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahab and Sheikh Muhammad Bin Saud resulted in the first Saudi state, which lasted till 1818 when finally, Ottoman Empire managed to overcome it by sending the army from Egypt under the command of the then ruler, General Muhammad Ali Pasha and his son Ibrahim Pasha.

In 1818, they were able to bring down the first Saudi state of Al-Saud. The second state was established after two years with another member from Al-Saud liberating it from Turkish rule and which lasted until 1890 when it was brought down by Ottomans again.

GVS: Then how has this impression become so deep that every other mosque in Pakistan and Bangladesh is being sponsored by Saudi Arabia?

Prince Turki: Well you go and ask the mosques themselves and have them give you the record of their finances. Of course, there are mosques that have received Saudi money, we would never deny. On the contrary, we think it is our duty to help Muslim communities if they ask for help. Some of it was Saudi state money and a lot of it was private money.

I would suspect that some private Saudi money went to individual sheiks that promoted the extremist and violent thinking, but no Saudi state money was given to extremists. We identify extremism and extremists as being the anti-Saudi state.

GVS: One year ago when we met at a previous conference in Salzburg, it was felt in that conference that Saudi Arabia and its allies had serious fault lines with and concerns regarding Iran. One year down the line Saudi allies have split with Bahrain and UAE and Saudi Arabia taking a position against Qatar, which was otherwise an ally. What went wrong?

Prince Turki: What went wrong was the activities and the practices of Qataris. The Qataris from 1995 onwards, when the then-new Amir Sheikh Hammad bin Thani rose against his father and established himself as the ruler in Qatar…he took a very active role in not only trying to promote his country’s position in the world but also to interfere in the matters of Bahrain.

His father didn’t have this mental attitude which the son had. He began to subvert the situation in Bahrain and he began to finance groups in the Arab world and not just in Arabian Peninsula, but like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other activists in Syria, Iraq etc…

They also established Al-Jazeera Arabic (1994), it was established just a year before his father was kicked out by him. Al-Jazeera started to propagate anti-Saudi, anti-Bahraini, and anti-Iraqi proposition and so on.

They started to organize discussion groups, where opposition groups from these countries were invited to come and talk about their opposition to these countries. Of course, there were immediate complaints not just from Saudi Arabia but from countries like Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco who became targets of this media campaign.

GVS: Al-Jazeera Arabic is also seen as the symbol of the Arab world that unites the Arab on one platform?

Prince Turki: Well, this is the outside perspective. From within the Arab world, this is seen as a divisive tool that divides people from their legitimate governments. In 1999, the GCC countries came to an understanding with the Qataris that they would tone down their media campaign against them and also become more engaged as a partner in the GCC.

Unfortunately, from 1999 till 2011 Qataris continued to provide financial aid to the opposition groups. Then comes 2011, the so-called year of ‘Arab Spring’, that is when the flood gates were open by Qatar, targeting regimes like Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, UAE and other places. Again by providing platforms to the opposition groups to speak.

By 2013, three countries, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and UAE announced of breaking their ties with Qatar or were withdrawing their Ambassadors unless Qatar stops.

They withdrew their Ambassadors for six to eight months, Kuwait played a mediatory role. And finally, the agreement was reached in 2014 between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain in which Qatar agreed to stop the activities of Al-Jazeera and financing the opposition groups and to resolve all the complaints the three countries had against Qatar.

My perspective is that by agreeing to stop these activities they thereby admitted that they were doing these activities. The Amir of Qatar, under the GCC auspices, signed the memorandum in Riyadh in 2014, with the signatures of Saudi, UAE and Bahrain officials, while Kuwait being the guarantor of the agreement. But since 2014 they did not implement all the articles of the agreement which finally led to the break in 2017.

GVS: Can this be argued that Saudi Arabia is the regime that is under threat from the forces of modernity around it?

Prince Turki: I wish you would come to Saudi Arabia and judge by yourself.  When people talk about modernity it depends upon what they mean. Are we against the loose application of religious practices? Yes, we are, why? Because, Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Islam, it is where Mecca and Medina exist.

If we were to allow the interpretations of Islam that for example, Turkey – that has subscribed to European principles – has that contradict religious practice, then what would Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India and all over the world will say to us…

They will say: you are not living up to Islamic principles. And on the interpretation of the Hudood; in Islamic jurisprudence, Hudood are the clearly identified and mentioned, rules of conduct on prayers, pilgrimage, Shahadat, zakat, fasting and so on. We cannot accept that they be changed or removed from scripture. And so from this context that is where we are.

But when it comes to other practices such as women’s rights, for example, we believe there is nothing in Islam that contradicts women’s rights, if Islamic Sharia is practiced fully. And the whole issue of women not being able to work or drive; from my perspective that is a non-starter and should be done away with.

GVS: Then why it is not done away?

Prince Turki: I think because of the social constrictions, that will upset the social harmony not just in Saudi Arabia but it would be a means to accuse Saudi Arabia for giving up on certain Islamic practices.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the King himself in the cabinet meeting, proclaimed “Vision 2030” for modernity and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman has been delegated by the Saudi state and the King to implement this Vision 2030.

GVS: While Muhammad Bin Salman being the Crown prince, this has been particularly a sort of a generational change in Saudi Monarchy’s history against the tradition of rulers taking the charge in the last part of their lives. (in very old age), Is the regime prepared for that change?

Prince Turki: I think eminently it is, because the King is the arbiter of stability in Saudi Arabia and he is a man of more than 60 years of government experience. And you can imagine-  having gone through for 60 years at various levels of government experience – the wisdom and the knowledge he enjoys being the King of Saudi Arabia…

He chose the Crown Prince who is 31 years old to be his successor. The king’s knowledge and wisdom is there, as the mainstay of the state. Let’s not forget, Prince Muhammad worked with his father for seven years. In those seven years, he was guided and taught by his father about the practices and rules of the government.

So he doesn’t come from a vacuum, he was not plucked out of a cocoon and made responsibly. He went through a disciplining and an educational process under his father.

GVS: King’s Faisal Scientific research and Islamic studies which you head. What is it exactly doing?

Prince Turki: It is more than a Think Tank, also a public library, a publication house, a host for conferences, lectures, research fellows, Museums and social events in Riyadh. We had researchers from Pakistan who have come and done research in Saudi Arabia but we also have had researchers from all over the world who have come and worked with us in Saudi Arabia.

We engage with other institutions of similar nature throughout the world and hopefully with the main aim of it to propagate the visions and the aspirations of Late King Faisal when he was alive.

A shorter version of this detailed interview was earlier published in “Global Village Space” Magazine, December issue. This in-depth discussion was conducted by GVS team, at the sidelines of IPI Salzburg Forum, in Austria. GVS is thankful to Adam Lupel, COO IPI, for making it happen.