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11.18.2013

SAUDI PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL ADDRESSES ENERGY, U.S.-SAUDI RELATIONS, SYRIA AND IRAN – ON “CBS THIS MORNING”

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL TELLS CO-HOSTS CHARLIE ROSE, NORAH O’DONNELL AND GAYLE KING OF THE UNITED STATES’ REPUTATION ABROAD: “ITS INFLUENCE IS DIMINISHING”

           Saudi Arabian Prince and billionaire Alwaleed Bin Talal called the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia “very strained,” but said that he believes “a lot of things were resolved” during Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to the Middle Eastern country.

In the interview, which was broadcast live today, Nov. 18, 2013 on CBS THIS MORNING (7:00-9:00 AM) on the CBS Television Network, the prince said that the Middle East viewed the U.S.’ lack of action in Syria as “a blinking,” adding, “Frankly speaking, no, we don’t have confidence that the military strike would happen if Iran does not succumb to the pressure.”

And, he added, the U.S. actions “gave Putin the chance to come not by the back door but by the front door whereby a big delegation to visit Egypt and visit many other countries whereby they establish themselves again because, you know, Russia played the big role in breaking that deal between the United States and Syria.”

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal also discussed U.S. energy and increased shale oil production, telling Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King, “No doubt this will impact the geo-political situation in our region.”

Excerpts of the interview are below.

CHARLIE ROSE: Let’s talk about shale oil, and what it means, first for the United States and then specifically for Saudi Arabia - if the U.S. is no longer dependent onto Mid-Eastern oil and if Saudi Arabia finds itself needing to be in other businesses.

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: Yeah. No doubt that the shale oil production is increasing, not only in the United States but also in Europe and some other areas of the world. As a result of that, the United States will not only be oil sufficient in production but also to be potentially a net oil exporter. No doubt this will impact the geo-political situation in our region because the dependence on the United States is on oil will be less. However, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and United States, as I encompass it and as I see it, it’s somehow wider than just being oil dependent only. And actually, that relationship began when President Roosevelt met the King Abdulaziz the establisher of modern Saudi Arabia, in 1945 on the military ship "SS Quincy" and established this long-term alliance. So really, it’s not based on oil only.

NORAH O’DONNELL: But that is true. There has been this alliance and a lot of has been because of U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil. But now, the U.S. is about to surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer because of shale. I really do think that changes geo-politics. I mean, if you look at it U.S.-Saudi relations, there are three fracture points right now, Syria, Egypt, and Iran. How much has it strained relations with the U.S. in terms of this new deal that Secretary Kerry may be crafting with Iran?

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: No doubt the relationship between Saudi Arabia and U.S. is strained.

NORAH O’DONNELL: It is strained. How strained?

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: It is very strained. However, Mr. Kerry’s visit to Saudi Arabia and meeting with King Abdullah for two long hours, I think a lot of things were resolved at that time. Yet, still Saudi Arabia is very concerned for a non-cohesive policy, a non-cohesive policy of United States towards the Middle East. For example, when President Obama puts a red line whereby if Syria crosses that red line by using chemical weapons, he would strike and then adjustment or change happens whereby a quid pro quo takes place whereby the chemical weapons are given to the United States whereby they don’t get hit. So this really was delivered not too much work in our region.

GAYLE KING: When they didn’t strike, what did you think about that?

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: It’s not us only. It’s the whole world. They saw it as a blinking. And it gave Putin the chance to come not by the back door but by the front door whereby a big delegation to visit Egypt and visit many other countries whereby they establish themselves again because, you know, Russia played the big role in breaking that deal between the United States and Syria.

CHARLIE ROSE: But the big question is Iran and it is said that Saudi Arabia would like for someone to strike Iran, its bitter enemy in the Middle East. Would it be helpful for the Saudis if Israel or the United States struck the Iranian oil facilities? I’m sorry, nuclear facilities?

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: I’m not sure the official position of Saudi Arabia. Most of the countries in the region want Iran to be struck by the United States or by the western powers. Our objective is to have Iran to be nuclear-free. If it were to happen through peaceful means, so be it and that’s objective Saudi Arabia.

CHARLIE ROSE: And if it is not?

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: Well, as a last resort, I mean, you always have to have the military option on the table. It’s very important to keep it.

CHARLIE ROSE: But much talk is about the fact that the Emirates and Saudi Arabia would like to see if it cannot be done peacefully, be done militarily.

NORAH O’DONNELL: And Iran and Israel. I mean that’s a strange alliance.

CHARLIE ROSE: Exactly. Israel and Saudi Arabia are on the same page with respect to Iran.

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: Yes. But also, the position of the United States is that the military option is to sit on the table as last resort.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you have confidence that the United States would execute that policy? Does the Saudi government have confidence?

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: Frankly speaking, no, we don’t have confidence that the military strike would happen if Iran does not succumb to the pressure and the-

CHARLIE ROSE: So you don’t trust the United States, you’re saying. The Saudi government does not trust the United States to do it.

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: I think at the more macro level, the whole trust issue on United States is very much on shaky grounds these days, not only from Saudi Arabia but also Europe. We have Merkel also doubting also the United States by having the United States spying on her cell phone. You have the Brazilian President also cancelling the visit here because of the NSA situation also. So really—

CHARLIE ROSE: Does that mean the United States has lost influence in the world?

PRINCE ALWALEED BIN TALAL: I wouldn’t say lost influence, but its influence is diminishing.

Click here to watch the video clip.

 

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Chris Licht is the Vice President of Programming, CBS News, and Executive Producer of CBS THIS MORNING.

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Press Contact:         Weesie Vieira              212-975-2856         VieiraW@cbsnews.com

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Weesie Vieira
212-975-2856
vieiraw@cbsnews.com