Saudi Prince backs away from military clash with Iran

The Wall Street Journal | Jared Malsin and Summer Said: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has edged away from a possible military confrontation with Iran as the kingdom seeks to cool regional tensions and rehabilitate its image a year after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, voiced support for a political solution to relations with its regional rival in comments during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired on Sunday. He also welcomed the possibility of a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” Prince Mohammed said in the interview, which CBS said had been conducted on Tuesday.

But when asked whether action against Iran would have to be a military response, he said, “I hope not.” He warned that a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia would severely damage the world economy.

The comments are the clearest sign to date of Prince Mohammed backing away from a direct confrontation with the country’s chief rival. As defense minister from 2015 and particularly since being named crown prince in 2017, he has led an aggressive foreign policy in the region, going to war against Houthis in Yemen, briefly detaining Lebanon’s prime minister, and imposing a blockade on another neighbor, Qatar.

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