Saudi king praises son, castigates Iran in annual speech
King Salman made no direct mention of Jamal Khashoggi in his first public comments since the state-backed killing, signaling his backing for his son
Saudi King Salman offered full backing to his embattled son in a speech Monday night, praising the crown prince’s program for reform and leaving his ire for regional rival Iran.
“The international community must put an end to Iran’s activities that threaten the security and stability of the region,” said the 82-year-old ruler, highlighting a position in step with the Trump administration.
Saudi Arabia has been navigating a weeks-long crisis following the October 2 state-sponsored murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a long-time palace insider turned critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In his speech to the Shura Council, the king touched on the affair, saying he had full confidence in the public prosecutor. The prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of those charged in the murder, raising the prospect of eliminating some of the top aides of the crown prince.
King Salman also voiced support for a political solution in Yemen through the Gulf Cooperation Council amid a worldwide outcry over a looming famine in the country.
Riyadh in 2015 launched a military intervention in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi rebel gains and restoring the internationally-recognized government to power. The conflict and de facto air and sea blockade have brought the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.
Yemen appears to be one of the many fronts on which the aging monarch will bend in order to salvage his plan for succession. The crown prince appeared somber and serious in the audience during his father’s speech.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Monday announced the 33-year-old heir to the throne will be participating in the upcoming G-20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month.
It will be his first foreign trip since the murder of Khashoggi, and according to Falih, part of a larger tour.