RIYADH, 4 May 2008 — The United States threatened to use force against Saudi Arabia in 1973 after King Faisal, along with other Arab leaders, imposed an oil embargo on countries that supported Israel during the October War, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday.
In the interview, that appeared ahead of a scientific seminar on King Faisal to be opened by Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman on Tuesday, Prince Turki shed light on important events that took place during his father’s rule.
Prince Turki, who was an adviser at the Royal Court in 1973 when King Faisal took the oil-embargo decision, said the king was not shaken by the US threat and stood firm.
He added that the oil embargo was instrumental in encouraging the US to find a quick and just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. “King Faisal and other Arab leaders were forced to take the decision as a result of America’s unprecedented support for Israel during the war,” the prince said. He added that American officials talked about the possibility of attacking Saudi oil fields, something that was leaked in US newspapers. Some of these statements came from the then US State Secretary Henry Kissinger.
Prince Turki said King Faisal, who was in Jeddah at the time, received a telegram from Kissinger warning that if the Kingdom did not lift the embargo, the US would take all measures to protect its interests.
“The message was not specific about the measures they were going to take, but it appeared that they would use force. A CIA representative gave me the unsigned message, telling me it was from Kissinger… I went to the king and conveyed its contents. He received the message, read it and said: ‘Kheir insha Allah (Good, God willing).’
“It was very clear that it had come from the American government… The king was very relaxed, cheerful, humorous and was in good spirits despite the threat… This reflected his high quality and determination. He was giving the message that the Kingdom would not bow down to a threat, as a result of a decision it had taken with other Arab countries. It was a great reply,” said Prince Turki. [more]