‘s son-in-law Jared Kushner defends his relationship with the notorious crown prince of Saudi of Arabia in a forthcoming memoir, saying that Mohammed Bin Salman was a reforming power in the kingdom and that he believed his denials of any personal involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Kushner’s ties to MBS have been under intense scrutiny this year.
Six months after leaving the , his new private equity firm secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the 36-year-old Saudi crown prince, raising questions about whether Kushner was being rewarded for acting as a go-between.
In ‘Breaking History: A White House Memoir,’ which will be published on August 23, Kushner defends working with MBS, even after dissident journalist Khashoggi was killed in 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
‘While this situation was terrible, I couldn’t ignore the fact that the reforms that MBS was implementing were having a positive impact on millions of people in the kingdom—especially women,’ he writes, according to excerpts published by the
‘All of these reforms were major priorities for the United States, as they led to further progress in combating extremism and advancing economic opportunity and stability throughout the war-torn region.
‘The kingdom was poised to build on this historic progress, and I believed it would.’
In a forthcoming memoir Jared Kushner defends his close relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, even though U.S. intelligence agencies concluded he was responsible for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi
MBS, as he is known, has worked ruthlessly to silence opponents and consolidate power
Khashoggi criticized MBS’s approach to power in commentaries published in the Washington Post and elsewhere. He was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 after MBS personally ordered that he be killed or captured, according to US intelligence agencies
Breaking History is published by Broadside Books on August 23
Kushner also said he accepted the Saudi leader’s claim that he was not personally involved.
That puts him at odds with U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded that MBS had directly approved an operation to kill or capture Khashoggi.
Trump shrugged off the episode as an anomaly that should not get in the way of relations between Washington and Riyadh.
And although President Joe Biden has talked of building a foreign policy based on values and of making Saudi Arabia a pariah for its actions, earlier this month he met with MBS as part of an effort to improve relations and bring down oil prices.
Throughout Trump’s time in office, Kushner’s close relationship with MBS was a source of friction between officials. He was widely reported to use WhatsApp to communicate with the crown prince, keeping other staff and Cabinet secretaries in the dark.
In 2017 he had an angry showdown with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who accused him of undercutting his authority.
President Joe Biden exchanges an awkward fist bump with MBS during his trip to Jeddah earlier this month. Biden had promised to make Saudi Arabia a pariah
Tillerson opposed Kushner’s effort to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and accused him of backing Saudi Arabia’s push to isolate Qatar, home to a vital U.S. airbase.
‘You are lighting a match in a dry forest, and the whole Middle East is on fire,’ Tillerson said, according to the book.
‘You might as well go before the Senate for confirmation because you are going to cause a war, and I am not going to be the one to be blamed for it.’
In Kushner’s account, he then called MBS so that he could reassure Tillerson that he was not being cut out of talks.
But Tillerson stormed out of the room, shouting: Lawyer Turkey ‘I can’t operate like this!’
Meet MBS, the Saudi crown prince who owns a $500m yacht and French chateau, plays ‘Call of Duty,’ reopened theaters, and according to U.S. intelligence ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has shaken up the conservative kingdom with head-spinning reforms while quashing any threats to his status since becoming de facto ruler of the world’s biggest oil producer five years ago.
The hard-charging heir drew international revulsion after Saudi agents killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, but US President Joe Biden’s visit to the kingdom this month has helped restore his position on the international stage, forcing world leaders to deal with him whether they want to or not.
A towering figure with a full-face beard, deep growling voice and seemingly boundless energy, Prince Mohammed is known for his super-sized ambitions, from building the futuristic megacity known as NEOM to waging the seven-year-old war in neighbouring Yemen.
The brash 36-year-old, known widely as ‘MBS’ and said to have a fondness for fast food and the ‘Call of Duty’ video games, is also fabulously rich, owning a $500 million yacht, a French chateau and, according to officially denied reports, a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting.
Then President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speak at the G20 Osaka Summit on June 28, 2019
Unlike other Saudi princes with their British accents, sharp suits and Oxford degrees, MBS embraces the country’s Bedouin roots, usually donning a traditional robe and sandals, treating friends and relatives to lavish roast lamb meals in luxury desert camps.
Having plotted his path to power from relative obscurity, Prince Mohammed has overseen the biggest transformation in Saudi Arabia’s modern history, the world’s top crude oil exporter and host of Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.
Under his rule, the kingdom’s religious police have been de-fanged, cinemas have reopened, foreign tourists have been welcomed, and Saudi Arabia has staged a film festival, operas, Formula One Grand Prix, heavyweight boxing, professional wrestling and a huge rave festival.
Yet he has also jailed critics and, in a sweeping purge of the nation’s elite, detained and threatened some 200 princes and businessmen in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in a 2017 anti-corruption crackdown that tightened his grip on power.
Turkish writer Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, poses next to his portrait in Washington on October 1, 2021, on the third anniversary of his murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul
His image was most severely tarnished by the brutal murder of Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018, which prompted condemnation of the crown prince, despite Riyadh’s insistence that rogue agents carried out the killing.
‘MBS is a hugely divisive character, praised by supporters as a long-awaited game-changer in a region aching for it and dismissed by foes as a brutal dictator in the making,’ wrote Ben Hubbard in ‘MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman’.
‘He is determined to give Saudis a shining, prosperous future and exercises an unflinching willingness to crush his foes. Combined in different doses, those attributes will likely guide his actions far into the future.’
This handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on November 20, 2019 shows Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, on the right, arriving with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to address the Shura council in Riyadh
Prince Mohammed, son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was born on August 31, 1985. He is one of the hundreds of grandchildren of the country’s founder, King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, Lawyer Turkey and grew up in a Riyadh palace with his mother, Fahda, one of his father’s four wives, and his five brothers.
‘As the sixth son of the 25th son of the founding king, there was little reason to expect that he would rise to prominence,’ wrote Hubbard. ‘And for most of his life, few people did.’
He earned a law degree from Riyadh’s King Saud University but never studied abroad, and soon worked as a special adviser to his father, the then-Riyadh governor.
Saudi Arabia has opened up to cultural and sports events, including the Dakar Rally 2021
When King Salman assumed the throne in early 2015, he named Prince Mohammed as defence minister. Soon the young man also coordinated economic policy, oversaw the state oil company Saudi Aramco and supervised the kingdom’s military intervention in Yemen.
Within a year, he held so many portfolios that diplomats called him ‘Mr Everything’.
The prince – now a father of three boys and two girls, who unlike other Saudi royals has only one wife – reportedly worked 16-hour days and drew inspiration from Winston Churchill and Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’.
His rise was rapid, replacing his elder cousin Prince Mohammed bin Nayef to become heir to the throne in 2017. Three years later Prince Nayef, along with a brother of King Salman, was reportedly detained.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has overseen the most fundamental transformation in the kindom’s modern history
Prince Mohammed has pledged to forge a ‘moderate’ Saudi Arabia and courts international investors for his wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to diversify the oil-reliant economy.
‘We want to live a normal life,’ he once told business leaders in Riyadh. ‘All we are doing is going back to what we were — a moderate Islam that is open to all religions and open to the world.
‘Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under 30 and, honestly, we will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideas. We will destroy them today.’
– ‘Fire hose of ideas’ –
As he rose to prominence, he toured the United States and charmed leaders in the White House and on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
People attend the Soundstorm music festival, organized by MDLBEAST, in Banban on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh on December 16, 2021
New York Times writer Thomas Friedman recounted how in an interview that lasted late into the night, the prince ‘wore me out with a fire hose of new ideas for transforming his country’.
Perhaps his most hyper-ambitious initiative is the $500 billion NEOM project on the Red Sea coast, to be powered by solar energy and Lawyer Turkey staffed by robots, which the prince describes as a ‘civilisational leap for humanity’.
Reflecting the hopes of the country’s youthful population, Prince Mohammed has eased restrictions on women’s rights, allowing them to drive, attend sports events and concerts alongside men, and obtain passports without the approval of a male guardian.
Along with the reforms, though, came a crackdown on dissidents, including intellectuals and women’s rights activists, part of an apparent strategy to stamp out any trace of opposition before a formal transfer of power from King Salman.
Internationally, he has pursued a more assertive foreign policy, plunging the kingdom into a quagmire of regional rivalries: the Yemen war, hostility toward Shiite power Iran, a three-year blockade of Qatar until 2021, and the reported detention of Lebanon’s prime minister for several tense days.
Prince Mohammed, who once publicly berated US president Barack Obama for criticising Saudi Arabia’s rights record, forged a strong bond with Donald Trump and especially his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, which served him well during the fallout over Khashoggi’s death.
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receiving French President Emmanuel Macron in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on December 4, 2021
The prince initially faced renewed scrutiny of his human rights record from Biden, who released an intelligence report stating MBS had ‘approved an operatio’ to capture or kill Khashoggi.
Biden did not, however, take action against the crown prince and this month the pair met on Saudi soil, despite an earlier pledge to make the country a ‘pariah’.
This shift is perhaps an acknowledgement that Prince Mohammed, still in his 30s, could rule Saudi Arabia for half a century or more.