Saudi prince criticises US over planned withdrawal of troops from Syria
A senior member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family says the withdrawal of US troops from Syria would worsen the situation in the war-torn country.
- Donald Trump announced the US troop withdrawal from Syria in December
- Prince Faisal said the action would further complicate the situation in Syria
- Prince Faisal’s comments are thought to reflect Saudi opinion
Prince Turki al-Faisal said in an interview with the BBC the world was guilty of neglecting the Syrian people and the planned US troop withdrawal would have a “very negative” impact.
“The US actions, from my perspective, is that it is going to further complicate the issue, rather [than] find any solutions to it, and further entrench not only the Iranians, but also the Russians and Bashar al-Assad,” he said.
“So from that perspective, of course, it is a very negative development.”
In December, US President Donald Trump declared victory over Islamic State in Syria and announced he would withdraw all of the approximately 2,000 US troops from the country.
Prince Faisal added the departure of US defence secretary James Mattis — who resigned in December — was unlikely to help the situation.
“Obviously he disagreed with the administration on Syria policy, so in that context his remaining would have been a more positive sign of commitment to that policy,” he said.
The prince is no longer a member of Saudi Arabia’s Government, but according to the BBC his views most likely reflect official Saudi opinion.
Washington plans to withdraw all of the approximately 2,000 US troops in Syria. (Arab 24 Network via AP)
US-Saudi relations tense after Khashoggi killing
He was speaking ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Riyadh as part of a tour of the Middle East.
Relations between Riyadh and Washington remain tense following the October assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Members of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage have been implicated in the killing and US lawmakers have demanded America pull back its support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
“We will continue to have a conversation with the Crown Prince and the Saudis about ensuring that the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Mr Pompeo said.
“We’ll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable certainly by the Saudis, but by the United States as well, where appropriate,” he added.
Prince Faisal emphasised the Saudi position that the Crown Prince was not involved in the murder, calling media coverage of Khashoggi’s death “an unfair attempt to criminalise the Crown Prince”.
“Rogue actions by subsidiaries is not unique to the kingdom, nor is it unique to the Crown Prince,” he told the BBC.
“There has been no proof at all of these contentions of his participation in any nefarious activity at all.”