Today, the television show 60 Minutes will air an interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) in the US.
This is MbS’ first interview with a US news outlet since journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, which the CIA believes was orchestrated by the crown prince. While MbS has not admitted direct involvement, he acknowledged this week that as de facto leader, he is responsible for the death.
The admission comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack on Saudi Arabia’s major oil facilities—allegedly sponsored by Iran—an act of war. Riyadh is insistent on retaliating against Tehran.
As Saudi Arabia considers a military response, US support is unlikely. The US’ deceasing dependency on Saudi oil, its determination to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and its limited involvement in Yemen demonstrate US unwillingness to become bogged down in another Middle East conflict.
Expect an apologetic MbS to exemplify himself as a human rights reformer in an effort to strengthen his relationship with Washington. While greater US military support is unlikely, increased intelligence sharing is possible.
Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.