Soleimani killing wake-up call for Tehran: Former Saudi intelligence chief

“The taking out of Soleimani definitely has been an important step to check at least some of the ambitions of Iran after its very provocative actions in the past year,” Prince Turki said.
Friday 17/01/2020
Former Saudi Ambassador to the United States Turki Al Faisal Al-Saud speaks in a conference in Washington DC, October 31, 2018. (AFP)
Former Saudi Ambassador to the United States Turki Al Faisal Al-Saud speaks in a conference in Washington DC, October 31, 2018. (AFP)

LONDON - Saudi Arabia’s former head of intelligence, Prince Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud believes that the killing of the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Major-General Qassim Soleimani was a “wake-up call” for authorities in Tehran.

In an interview with CNBC, Prince Turki who also served as the kingdom’s ambassador to the United Kingdom and the United States stressed that the killing of the Quds Force chief sent a clear message to Iran that it can’t get away with its provocations

“The taking out of Soleimani definitely has been an important step to check at least some of the ambitions of Iran after its very provocative actions in the past year,” Prince Turki said.

“The attacks on the oil tankers, culminating in the attack on the Aramco facilities, and there was no response,” he said. “This was a sort of a wake-up call to the Iranian government and the Iranian leadership that they can’t get away with it,” he added.

On January 3, a US airstrike near Baghdad’s airport killed Soleimani and several of his Iraqi and Lebanese military associates, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq. The death of Soleimani was said to eliminate the architect behind Iran’s regional proxy groups.

However, the former Saudi intelligence chief believes that despite the death of Soleimani, the Islamic Republic will continue conducting its business as usual.

“It definitely was a very important step,” he said. “Whether it would stop further activities by Iran to use the methods that Soleimani was very clever in using — I don’t think so.”

According to Al Faisal that is due to Iranian leadership’s “agenda and a project,” he said.

“That is going to continue,” Prince Turki predicted.

“Maybe less efficiently than when Soleimani was alive, but inevitably, equally terroristic and, in my view, evil in its intent,” he added.

Despite cool relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Riyadh has been working diligently to de-escalate tensions after the Soleimani killing, which included dispatching its deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid Bin Salman on state visits to both the United States and the United Kingdom for talks with officials with the expressed purpose of de-escalating the situation with Tehran.