Early last month Prince Turki Al Faisal visited Royal Air Force Molesworth in the United Kingdom, a base which houses a joint intelligence center responsible for the European theater of operations. His remarks to American and British officials, dubbed a “Saudi National Security Doctrine for the Next Decade,” were summarized in several news reports that highlighted his comments about “squeezing” Tehran using oil production and the threat that Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon would lead to proliferation in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Prince Turki’s speech provided a much broader view of the region and the world from Riyadh’s perspective than has been commented upon in most news reports. SUSRIS has obtained a transcript of the Molesworth speech and provides it here for your consideration.
Author and Middle East scholar Thomas Lippman talked with SUSRIS about Prince Turki’s national security doctrine address and noted that although he holds no official position in the government – he served for decades as Director General of the Kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate and was posted as Saudi Ambassador in London and Washington – he has been “the most vocal articulator of Saudi policy.” Lippman added that although the extent to which he speaks for the government is not clear, the Molesworth speech is a useful summary of Saudi views on many regional issues.
The “Saudi National Security Doctrine for the Next Decade” speech by Prince Turki is just the latest in a series of stimulating presentations he has made in recent months. An op-ed he released in June challenged Washington over United Nations recognition of Palestine in September, “There will be disastrous consequences for U.S.-Saudi relations if the United States vetoes U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.” [Is There a Showdown at the UN Looming for Saudi-U.S. Relations? – SUSRIS]
In May 2010 he told an audience in Riyadh the U.S. should recognize Palestine as a sovereign, independent state – the “morally decent gesture” – if it was unable to advance peace through negotiations. [Turki Al-Faisal on U.S. Middle East, Afghan Policy – SUSRIS] He chastised Washington for its regional policies from “confusing signals” on nuclear proliferation to its positions on Afghanistan and Iraq saying the U.S. lost the “moral high ground” it held after 9/11 in the Middle East because of “negligence, ignorance and arrogance.”
You can find a complete list of links to Prince Turki’s numerous interviews, op-eds and articles following the transcript of his RAF Molesworth remarks.
A Saudi National Security Doctrine for the Next Decade
HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal
Royal Air Force Molesworth UK
June 8, 2011
Thank you so much for inviting me to speak at the Royal Air Force Molesworth. As some of you may know, the ground on which RAF Molesworth now stands was used during World War I as an airstrip, but was then abandoned. The, between 1940 and 1941, as World War II got under way, the base was built again in order to house the growing British war machine. It was also in the same time period that the search for oil began in Saudi Arabia. And the concurrence of these two events is a very telling historical symmetry. For just as the free world began joining together to repel the forces of evil, so did Saudi Arabia ally itself with the free world to provide some of the energy that the fighting would require. And so are we still allied to this very day.
Now, the goal of my speech today is to outline a general Saudi National Security Doctrine for the next decade. But before I begin, I wish to recount a short story that highlights an important issue in global relations. It is an issue that is central to our efforts to bring about joint operations that enhance security, which, in our interconnected world, requires ever-deeper levels of cooperation. It is at the core of our efforts to collaborate, share, and benefit from one another’s experiences and skills. I am speaking, of course, of nudity.
Please allow me to explain. It was nearly six years ago that I had the pleasure of being officially introduced to then United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Upon handing her a copy of my credentials, I told her that our meeting reminded me of an occurrence that took place between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt during the Second World War. That year Churchill had come to the US to discuss America’s increased involvement in World War II, and Roosevelt, to pay homage to Churchill’s importance and the gravity of the trip, decided to put him up at the White House instead of Blair House. One morning during his stay, Roosevelt rolled into Churchill’s room and found him walking about fully naked, or “starker’s” as the English say. When Roosevelt quickly attempted a backwards retreat, Churchill stopped him and said, “Mr. President, the Prime Minister of England has nothing to hide from the President of the United States.”
You can perhaps imagine the look on the face of Secretary of State Rice when I finished re-counting this anecdote. It was what one might call politely controlled trepidation. But I briskly allayed her fears by making clear that she need not fear my ever presenting myself “starker’s” before her, but that this was simply the kind of relationship I wanted Saudi Arabia to have with the United States. One based on that all-important concept in the arena of global terrorism and intelligence -nothing to hide.
So is it in due service to the role of nudity, or nothing to hide in international security collaborations, that I wish to outline for you today the Kingdom’s National Security Doctrine for the Next Decade. Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide from the world and knows that the less we are frightened by revelations, reassured through mutual transparency, and comfortable with what we see when we truly look at one another, the more we will savour the fruits of our efforts.
With that, I shall now retreat, Roosevelt-like, from the world of innuendo and advance into the particulars of Saudi national security, which I shall structure according to the following main themes: external security, internal security, and energy security. External security involves our affairs with other nations, internal security relates to preventing political instability and promoting social cohesion, and energy security has less to do with simply defending oil fields and much more to do with our overall energy production policy as it is designed to maintain stable markets. And, of course, I should mention that in all these areas Islam must play a central, yet developmental, role.
Before I get into particulars, let me say that Saudi Arabia, with its stability and influence, feels it is positioned to play an important regional and international role. Working diligently to successfully address many of its major domestic concerns, the Kingdom has turned outward with a newfound confidence and inward with an ever-vigilant eye toward its own internal safeguarding.
Why does the Kingdom now feel such confidence? for a number of reasons. She is the cradle of Islam, a religion that has today an estimated 1.2 billion adherents. Saudi Arabia represents over 20% of the combined GDP of the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region (and an estimated quarter of the Arab World’s GDP according to the latest IMF numbers) making it the economic engine of the region and the logical choice to be a permanent influential member of the G20. The Saudi stock market represents about 50% of the entire stock market capitalization of the MENA region and the listed Saudi companies make up 5 of the top 10 companies in the region with the top two slots being the Saudi conglomerates, Aramco and Sabic. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), the Kingdom’s central bank, is the world’s third largest holder of foreign exchange reserves managing just under $550 Billion. Last but not least, Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom’s national oil company, is the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum and has by far the world’s largest sustained production capacity infrastructure at about 12.5 million barrels-per-day and also has the world’s largest spare capacity currently estimated at over 4 million barrels-per-day or about 70% of global unused capacity.
Along with these impressive numbers, our nation is a peninsula, not an island. And a look at our neighbours reveals significant challenges that fall under the rubric of my first over-riding national security theme – external security. The rising Gulf economies – such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait – suffered considerably during the 2008-2009 global recession and will take a while to regain their footing. The Israeli/Palestinian issue is likely to remain difficult for years. Iraq continues to struggle to ensure security and stand on its own with a legitimate government after a devastating war. Iran presents a host of problems and has major domestic stability issues of its own. And, of course, all around the Arab world – in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and beyond – nations are facing uprisings that have crumbled or may crumble their governments.
Our overall goal vis-à-vis other nations is to strengthen our allies in the region and beyond and to assist in whatever way we can to help our neighbours maintain stability. Saudi Arabia firmly believes that peace in the region, and a conclusion to various longstanding, conflict-resolution efforts must be a primary objective of the next decade. This peace will only be achieved through cooperation that is built on trust, dialogue and engagement. This is why Saudi Arabia will continue to take the lead in negotiating between and with conflicting parties and nations. Furthermore, the Kingdom firmly believes that the next decade’s most vital security issue is progress. There must be economic and social progress for the people and of the governments of the Middle East so that peace, not conflict is clearly seen as the gateway to prosperity.
That said I do want to describe some specifics as we see them pertaining most directly to what our national security concerns will be over the next decade. The first issue I want to address, without preference to any prioritizing, is the issue of Iran. In a certain sense, Saudi Arabia and Iran are uniquely positioned to be at odds. Saudi Arabia has the world’s greatest petroleum reserves; Iran the second. Saudi Arabia is Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the birthplace of Islam, and as such feels it is the eminent leader of the wider Muslim world. Iran portrays itself as the leader of not just the Shiite world, but of all Muslim revolutionaries interested in standing up to the West.
Yet despite this seeming ideological canyon, Saudi Arabia really only has two concerns about Iran. First, it is in our interest that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, for their doing so would compel Saudi Arabia, whose foreign relations are now so fully measured and well assessed, to pursue policies that could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences. This is why, through various initiatives, we are sending messages to Iran that it is their right, as it is any nation’s right, and as we ourselves are doing, to develop a civilian nuclear program, but that trying to parlay that program into nuclear weapons is a dead end, and that wiser choices will result in wider riches. A Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction is the best means to get Iran and Israel to give up nuclear weapons. Such a Zone must be accompanied by a rewards regime that provides economic and technical support for countries that join; plus a nuclear security umbrella guaranteed by the permanent members of the Security Council. It should include a sanctions regime that puts economic and political sanctions on countries that don’t join; plus military sanctions against those countries that try to develop weapons of mass destruction, also guaranteed by the permanent members of the Security Council.
Fortunately, the measures being directed at Iran from a variety of directions seem to be achieving their intended aim of slowing its progress in gaining such weapons. I agree with Secretary of State Clinton when she recently said that the sanctions are working. I also heartily agree with those in the international community who possess the blessed wisdom to know that military strikes would be entirely counter-productive. Indeed, it is important to remember that there are other non-military policy alternatives, as yet unexplored, that could have the desired result without the unwanted consequences. These policy alternatives would capitalize on the vulnerability of the Iranian government whose hold on power is only possible if it is able, as it barely is now, to maintain a level of economic prosperity that is just enough to pacify its people. To put the government’s vulnerability into perspective vis-à-vis our own, with only 1/3rd the population, Saudi Arabia makes three and a half times the oil revenues of Iran, yet oil revenues account for around 50% of Iranian government revenues. This is to say that Iran is very vulnerable in the oil sector, and it is there that more could be done to squeeze the current government to join the world in efforts toward peace.
The other concern we need to address in the coming decade is Iran’s general actions in the region. Iran is a paper tiger with steel claws. Its government is dysfunctional and Iranians protested and continue to protest their government’s disabilities. However Iran’s steel claws are effective tools that widen her capabilities to interfere in other countries. It’s meddling and destabilizing efforts in countries with Shi’ite majorities, such as Iraq and Bahrain, as well as those countries with significant Shi’ite communities, such as Kuwait and Lebanon, must come to an end. Saudi Arabia will oppose any and all of Iran’s actions in other countries because it is Saudi Arabia’s position that Iran has no right to meddle in other nations’ internal affairs. Indeed, Iran takes this position as well – it is very sensitive about other countries meddling in its affairs. But it should treat others like it expects to be treated. The Kingdom expects Iran to practice what it preaches. Finding solutions for the area’s conflicts is essential to deprive Iran of her interfering abilities. Palestine is a case in point. Without that issue, Iran has no capability to interfere.
One cannot discuss Iran without also mentioning Iraq. Iraq has a great history as a pivotal member of the Arab community. It has been, and it can still be, an important force in the Arab world. It is a founding member of the Arab League and OPEC, possessing vast natural resource wealth, and may some day be a major player in the energy markets. It sits at the heart of the Middle East and has a capable and diverse population. But much of its potential is being crushed by Iranian policies. Be it preferable to us or not, it is a new fact in the region that an Iraq that once waged a horridly bloody war against Iran has now become a significant arena of growing Iranian influence thanks to the aftermath of the US invasion. There are people and groups in Iraq that are, as much as they deny it, completely beholden to Iran, and that is not only unacceptable, but it is bad for the future of an ethnically and religiously diverse country. It is our goal that Iraq remains an active participant of the Arab world and throws off these destructive foreign influences.
This is the main reason why we continue to maintain the same distance from all Iraqi factions. However, let me point out that, because we still have serious, deep-seated reservations about the formation of the current government, we are the only country not to have sent an ambassador to Iraq. What is the cause of these reservations? Let me give you one example. Recently there was a certain Iranian general who, a week prior to the formation of the new government, was in Baghdad negotiating on behalf of the current Iraqi Prime Minister with the Shi’ite and Kurdish groups, seeking their support for the new mandate. These are the kinds of actions that are not missed by Saudi Arabia; we cannot agree with them, and we will do everything in our power to make them end. For instance, despite Baghdad’s considerable debts to Riyadh estimated at over $20 Billion, the Saudi government has pledged to forgive most of them, but this is dependent upon an end to the sectarian, Iran-influenced direction the country is taking. In short, it is the Kingdom’s full intention to continue to work with the people of Iraq to assure that their country becomes a stable, positive, and independent member of the Arab world.
I will now briefly address the current situation with one of Saudi Arabia’s closest neighbours, Yemen. For the Kingdom, and, indeed, the rest of the world, an increasingly unstable Yemen represents a very real security threat due to the potential for terror cells to take root there. This rough, rugged southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula, with a population of over 20 million, has been an arena for Al Qaeda operations since Osama bin Laden established training camps there in the 1990’s, and according to our intelligence sources, Al Qaeda’s influence is growing in the country. This is largely due to the fact that the Yemeni central government has little authority in the mountainous areas outside the capital and other cities. Extremists have reportedly made deals with local tribal leaders for supplies and protection, creating a sanctuary not unlike Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. The recent cargo bomb that was discovered, due to a strategic tip from the Saudi General Security Service, was bound for the US East Coast. It was assembled and put on board in Yemen.
While uprisings have recently rocked the country, alas, President Saleh has declined to agree to the Saudi led GCC mediation effort there. And so Yemen remains a serious issue for the Kingdom. Refugees fleeing the conflict flood across the border. Terrorism emerges from Yemen and crosses into the Kingdom. And should Yemen collapse, this could become an even greater security threat.
What are our plans for the coming decade vis-à-vis this volatile situation? We have, in essence, a tri-partite approach. First, we are working with our GCC partners to broker a peaceful transition from Saleh to a national unity government that will carry forward the task of drawing up a new constitution and end the conflict. The Kingdom has had a decades’ long program of economic and financial support for the Yemeni people. It is now on hold until the country settles down. We are strengthening our borders to prevent Yemeni refugees and Al Qaeda terrorists from crossing into our country while also increasing our counter-intelligence efforts to attempt to pinpoint and destroy Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. Our work with the United States to eliminate the terrorist threat continues.
Let us now turn to the Kingdom’s approach to the volatile and important nations of Lebanon and Syria. Lebanon experienced a political sea change over a year ago when the March 14 coalition won the country’s parliamentary elections, taking 71 of 128 seats. The results underscored the true popularity of the March 14 groups vis-à-vis the “claimed” popularity of Hezbollah, and thus of Iran. King Abdullah’s visit to Lebanon showed the importance that Saudi Arabia places on Lebanese stability and security.
However, as we recently witnessed, Lebanon is very much on the brink of Civil War, as Hezbollah continues to push its agenda regardless of law and order. With the collapse of the Hariri government, we see to what extremes Hezbollah is willing to go, literally risking the very foundations of the nation, to prevent itself from being subject to the scrutiny of an international tribunal whose only goal is bringing fair justice upon those who perpetrated horrible assassinations. Saudi Arabia believes that law and order must prevail in Lebanon and supports all efforts to find the culprits behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 other people in Beirut.
This is why Saudi aid to Lebanon has increased greatly since the Israeli war in the summer of 2006. The Kingdom committed more than $1.5 billion shortly after the war ended for reconstruction and a major education initiative. This is a serious effort to rebuild a stronger, more stable Lebanon, but also an attempt to roll back the influence of Iran. Saudi leaders have for years pushed for the disarming of Tehran-backed Hezbollah and supported the government with nearly an extra $1 billion in financial support and credit for weapons purchases for the Lebanese Army, and we will continue to do so in the coming decade.
In terms of Syria, the political winds have proven unpredictable. In late 2009, Damascus laid out a dramatic welcome for King Abdullah, lavishing expansive coverage in state-run newspapers. King Abdullah’s visit was meant to foster better relations with Syria and bring President Bashar al-Assad away from the Iranian orbit. And while Saudi leaders boycotted an Arab League summit in Damascus in 2008, the two leaders met three times in 2009. Saudi Arabia re-posted its ambassador to Damascus that August, after an 18-month hiatus.
Unfortunately, recent talks between Saudi Arabia and Syria broke down, primarily due to differences on how to contain the growing crisis in Lebanon, and Syria continues to face serious political turmoil. The loss of life in the present internal struggle is deplorable. The government is woefully deficient in its handling of the situation, but, like Libya, President Assad will cling to power till the last Syrian is killed. Saudi Arabia’s position in the coming decade will again be based on its principles – peace, cooperation, and progress.
There must be peace in Lebanon and Syria, and this will come through cooperation of the parties involved, but little can be done without progress. This is especially true in the nations that Saudi Arabia sees as its primary regional challenges in the coming decade – Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria. With progress – social and economic – the conditions in which peace can prosper will come.
Egypt holds a special place in Saudi security interests. It is the largest Arab country with close and historically deep and significant ties to the Kingdom. King Abdullah held the closest of relations with President Mubarak for over thirty years. Abandoning him or any close ally during a revolutionary uprising was not and will never be a policy option for the Kingdom, which must uphold and defend its values. However, once President Mubarak resigned and the Egyptian people expressed their will, King Abdullah not only recognized the new reality, but he also extended the hand of friendship to the new leadership. For instance, he unconditionally authorized four billion dollars in grants, loans, and deposits to Egypt’s emerging government, which stands in stark comparison to the conditional loans that the US and Europe have promised. It is also another contrast in values between the Kingdom and its Western allies.
Now to Bahrain: This nation is geographically and historically the closest to Saudi Arabia. Right after the 1979 revolution in Iran, Khomeini began trying to export his revolution to all Muslim countries. This resulted in eruptions of violence not only in Muslim countries but also among Shi’ite communities in other countries. Those who claim that the recent disturbances were not instigated by Iran forget that Khomeini’s creation, Hezbollah in Bahrain, still exists and that Iranian propaganda broadcasts beamed at Bahrain have never ceased. When King Hamad delegated his Crown Prince to negotiate with the protesters on their demands, the Kingdom publicly endorsed the negotiations and still does. The GCC has extended a ten-year economic package to Bahrain of ten billion dollars, mostly from the Kingdom. The deployment of GCC troops at the request of a member country of the GCC to protect its strategic infrastructure like the oil refinery, the airport, the seaport, and economic installations is a duty that the Kingdom was and remains happy to provide. No GCC personnel have been engaged in any action against protesters. King Hamad has continued to call for negotiations and the Kingdom continues to support that call.
Of course, a full analysis of the Kingdom’s situation vis-à-vis the region cannot be considered complete without discussing what is perhaps the most important issue, and that is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As we have recently seen, Israel’s unwillingness to cease its unlawful colonization and continual refusal to grant the Palestinians their own homeland is the core reason that this conflict continues. There is no lack of proposals for peace, many of them completely rational and fair. Indeed, the only viable one today, in my humble opinion, remains The Arab Peace Plan, originally outlined by King Abdullah in 2002. It was even recently used as the basis for President Obama’s call on Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders and the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestine bordering Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.
The Kingdom continues to urge Israel to take the necessary steps toward peace and justice. It also continues to support the Palestinian Authority in its attempts to build lasting institutions for its people, and it remains, counter to recent accusations, the world’s largest contributor to the Palestinian Authority. In addition to the billions delivered from the 1960’s through the early 2000’s, in 2007 the Kingdom promised $500 million in development aid over five years to fund the Palestinian Authority’s Reform and Development Program. More than $300 million of this funding has been handed out to projects that include the Islamic Development Bank’s Aqsa Fund, which supports Palestinian projects, and housing and assistance for Palestinian refugees. More pledges, ranging into the billions of dollars, have been made to support the Palestinian Authority and the Kingdom has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years for rebuilding and developing Palestine — money that is being spent on schools, roads and security. One billion dollars has been earmarked for reconstruction in Gaza after the murderous Israeli attacks in 2008 and 2009. Funding, engagement, and a call for a two-state solution will be the centrepieces of the Saudi position in the coming decade.
And on the all-important issue of statehood, King Abdullah has called upon the world community, as its ethical and religious obligation, to come up with a Marshall-like Plan for the Palestinians whose objective will be the establishment of a Palestinian state. As such Saudi Arabia stands behind those UN member nations who wish to make an official UN declaration recognizing the state of Palestine and believes with them that Palestinian statehood is not a matter of if, but when.
Let me conclude the section on external security with a few words on Saudi Arabia’s perceived role in the Pakistan and Afghanistan situation, as well as in the larger Muslim world. It is our position that Afghanistan must become a stable nation with a unified government; the Taliban must divorce al-Qaida before it can become a partner for peace; and that Pakistan must join in the efforts to make that happen.
Our talks with Pakistan cover a host of issues, from counterterrorism to development aid to the Iranian ambitions in the area. We see our work in that region as part of our overall role in the broader Islamic world, and we view the next decade as a further realization of that. We hope to increase our peaceful foreign aid to nations in the name of improving their humanitarian situations, and also to foster a sense of Islam as a religion of collaboration and progress. But we also need to work harder to make sure this aid has a tangible effect and to make sure that it is spent only for purposes of peace. But it is important to note, as our recent $60 billion arms purchase from the United States indicates, while we spend lavishly on peaceful initiatives, we are also spending to guarantee our security against any contingency.
I would like to now turn to internal security and issues of the general cohesion of Saudi society. As we have seen in the Arab world, mismanagement of a nation can have dire consequences. The Kingdom, by our own admittance, has its issues: unemployment, a large youth population, radicalism, and diversification. But foremost among these is that the Kingdom is an aggregation of invested identities seeking political participation. These include different tribes, Shiites, conservatives, progressives, women, and others. Because of the dominant power of the state due to wealth, centrality and infrastructure, the inclusion of these diverse identities into a unified singular Saudi identity must inevitably be conducted through the state apparatus and narrative. And indeed, the Saudi government is handling the issue of identity inclusion under the belief that in it lay solutions to all its issues.
This has involved instituting the Basic Laws of Governance, the Shura Council, and the National Dialogues, increasing governmental transparency, working to foster the education and work of women and to enfold our Shi’ite brothers by offering them more opportunities and protecting their rights, opening up the media to a broader spectrum of opinions, allowing debate clubs at universities, continuing the long established public “Majlis” discussions with the King and public officials, opening up and reforming the judiciary, and moving toward the election of representative officials, allowing the celebration of Saudi National Day, and establishing the Bay’ah Council to guarantee a smooth process for the succession. All of these measures are both in response to an increased national sentiment and are meant to foster such sentiment.
But we are also taking strong actions to defeat those forces inside our nation who do not wish to be a part of civil society, but only wish to rip it apart. In response, we have implemented, and we will continue to improve over the coming decade, both hard and soft measures designed to eliminate the terrorists from our midst. First and foremost, the Saudi state has adapted a policy of direct confrontation with the forces that violently target our people, our government, and its infrastructure. A short summary of these actions includes coordination between Saudi and other international security agencies, closer monitoring of our financial infrastructure to make sure funds are not abused, a system-wide enhancement and expansion of our internal security forces, cross-agency counter-terrorist cooperation in the areas of intelligence and surveillance, and the detainment and extradition of 1000 suspects and the elimination of terrorists and multiple terror cells. More than sixty thousand slots in the cadre of the security agencies have been approved.
As you can see, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is quite a formidable list, but it is not all, for we have also seen success with, and will continue to engage in, various soft measures that prevent threats against the state from taking root in our soil. This includes an ideological rehabilitation program for those who are arrested for crimes of terrorism in order to wean them away from their extremist views, a greater emphasis on enlightened education that does not preach hate, and an increased involvement of the Senior Council of Ulama to speak out and issue fatwas against terrorism. All these “soft” measures are part of an overall reform strategy adopted by the state since 1993 and have touched all aspects of the political, economic and social orders. We will continue to improve upon them to achieve optimal success.
Let me now briefly touch upon the third area of concern – energy security – as it is such a vital element of the coming Saudi decade, primarily due to Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in the global energy market. To underline that pivotal role, allow me to point out that Saudi Arabia itself now possesses 75% of the spare production capacity in the world, with every other country possessing a very small amount or practically nothing. To put this into perspective, Saudi Arabia has so much production capacity – nearly 4 million barrels/day – that we could almost instantly replace all of Iran’s oil production. This massive spare capacity is the outcome of a capacity expansion program from 10 million barrels per day to 12.5 million barrels per day, which the Kingdom undertook between 2002 and 2008 at a capital cost of over $45 billion. Current plans are in place to sustain this capacity further by a new field development at Manifa, which will bring on a further 900 thousand barrels of oil capacity per day by 2014 at a capital cost of $16 billion to offset decline at other fields.
In addition to this spare production capacity, Saudi Arabia is committed to insuring sufficient refining capacity on a global basis to guarantee its oil production reaches the end use markets across the world. Current plans are to increase its Saudi based refining capacity from 2 million barrels per day to 3 million barrels per day by 2014 at a capital cost of over $26 billion dollars. At the same time, Saudi Arabia, through its joint venture partnerships in the US, Korea, China and Japan, operates a total offshore refining capacity of a further 2 million barrels per day, and has plans to expand this with additional refineries in Indonesia, China and Vietnam.
The stabilizing role of this spare oil production and new refining capacity, which now carries a direct operating and maintenance cost of no less than $5 billion per year with no offsetting revenues, must not to be misjudged, nor can one exaggerate the vital role it would play should it be needed.
That said, Saudi Arabia, as it always has, will commit itself in the coming decade to full energy market stability. A stable, coordinated price brought about by stable, coordinated production and pricing policies is the only way to assure this stability, and, as we have seen again and again, a situation that is ideal for both producer and consumer alike. Such stability and coordination are at the heart of Saudi, and global, energy security now and for the future. And on the topic of coordination, it is the Saudi position that calls for energy independence are misleading and disingenuous. The optimum formula for energy security for all nations is cooperation among nations to achieve a mix of all energy sources. For this reason, the Kingdom is working on adding solar, wind, and nuclear energies to offset its own use of oil and gas because we know that the more oil we consume, the less there will be for exports, creating a shortage at the very time when worldwide oil consumption is growing.
In order to foster international energy cooperation and coordination, the Kingdom has also established the International Energy Forum and the Joint Oil Data Initiative Archive of current individual country statistics in Riyadh. The goal of these initiatives is to overcome the adversarial confrontation between producers and consumers, which has existed since the oil boycott in the early seventies. Producers, consumers, and the oil companies make up the forum, and, already, a better sharing of more exact and beneficial information on reserves, production capacities, and consumption projections is available to all through the fully transparent Joint Oil Data Initiative Archives.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I began my speech with the issue of openness, and it is with openness I wish to end it, for, if you will allow me a slight stretch of my poetic faculties, I would say that openness is indeed at the heart of many of the issues addressed in this speech – the very issues that Saudi Arabia sees as being its national security challenges in the coming decade. For is it not openness that Iran fears, lest its true nuclear ambitions be discovered? Is it not a brave form of openness that the government of Iraq needs in order to assure that it is accepted by its people and surrounding nations? Is it not an open Yemen that the terrorist enclaves fear lest they be found out? Is it not the threat of their own openness before the law that so rattles Hezbollah in Lebanon? Is not Israel avoiding the openness of its role in preventing peace with the Palestinians by somehow claiming that it has a right to new settlements? And yes, it is even openness that Saudi Arabia needs to embrace as it modernizes and diversifies and takes on a greater role in global politics and Islam.
And so, as paradoxical as it may seem, I stand before you and say that the Saudi national security doctrine for the next decade, while certainly adaptable to reality and based on rational assessments and objectives, should be based on the notion that what the world needs now is more bare skin. For if we can all stand before each other and have nothing to hide, then we can all sit down together and have nothing to fear.
HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud
Prince Turki is Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and is one of the founders of the King Faisal Foundation. He served as the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States of America from September 13, 2005 until February 2, 2007. He also serves as a member of the Boards of Trustees of the International Crisis Group and the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies and is co-chair of the C100 Group, which has been affiliated with the World Economic Forum since 2003. Prince Turki was appointed an Advisor in the Royal Court in 1973. From 1977 to 2001, he served as Director General of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), the Kingdom’s main foreign intelligence service. In 2002, he was appointed Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland by then Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz.
Born on February 15, 1945 in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Prince Turki began his schooling at the Taif Model Elementary and Intermediate School. In 1963, he graduated from the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and subsequently pursued undergraduate studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
The King Faisal International Prizes, awarded by the King Faisal Foundation, are presented to “dedicated men and women whose contributions make a positive difference.” These annual prizes, which are awarded in five fields of endeavor – Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language and Literature, Science, and Medicine – have been likened, for the Arab and Islamic worlds, as similar in stature to, and nearly as coveted as, the more renowned and longer established annual Nobel Prizes. The King Faisal International Prizes, in addition to being bestowed upon Arabs and Muslims, have been granted to outstanding achievers from virtually all corners of the world.
For more information: www.kff.com
- Saudi Arabia worries about stability, security and Iran – Guardian UK – Jun 29, 2011
- Saudi prince warns Iran on nuclear weapons – Al Arabiya – Jul 1, 2011
- Saudi Arabia’s three worries – The Hindu – Jun 30, 2011
- Saudi Suggests ‘Squeezing’ Iran Over Nuclear Ambitions – Wall Street Journal – Jun 22, 2011
- Is Riyadh Ready to “Recalibrate the Partnership”? – Nawaf Obaid – SUSRIS – May 15, 2011
- A Conversation with Prince Turki Al-Faisal – SUSRIS Exclusive Interview – Dec 12, 2010
- Turki Al-Faisal on U.S. Middle East, Afghan Policy – SUSRIS – May 15, 2010
- In Israel, Time for Peace Offer May Run Out – NYTimes – Apr 2, 2011
- President Obama On the Middle East and North Africa – SUSRIS – May 19, 2011
- Prince Turki Al-Faisal on US-Saudi Relations – AUSPC – SUSRIS – Oct 25, 2010
- Turki al-Faisal and US performance – Sic Semper Tyrannis blog – May 2010
Also On SUSRIS
- Turki Al-Faisal on U.S. Middle East, Afghan Policy – SUSRIS – May 15, 2010
- When A Handshake is Not Just a Handshake – SUSRIS – Feb 7, 2010
- Land First, Then Peace – Prince Turki Al-Faisal – SUSRIS – Sep 15, 2009
- “Energy Independence” and Kissing Babies: The Politics of Oil – Prince Turki Al-Faisal – SUSRIS – Aug 27, 2009
- Gulf Forum: US-Gulf Relations Post-Election – Prince Turki al-Faisal Critical of US Gaza Stand – SUSRIS – Jan 7, 2009
- Peace for the Mideast Prince Turki al-Faisal – SUSRIS – Dec 29, 2008
- “What does Mr. Kissinger propose”? – Prince Turki Al Faisal – SUSRIS – Nov 25, 2008
- Saudi Ambassador Abruptly Resigns, Leaves Washington – SUSRIS – Dec 12, 2006
- A Voice of Peace; A Move Towards Stability – Prince Turki al Faisal – SUSRIS IOI – Nov 30, 2006
- Saudi Arabian Constitutional Evolution – Prince Turki al Faisal – SUSRIS IOI – Nov 6, 2006
- A Vision for the Future of Saudi-US Relations – Prince Turki al Faisal – SUSRIS IOI – Nov 4, 2006
- Region in Crisis: A Call for American Leadership and a Lasting Peace – Prince Turki al Faisal – SUSRIS IOI – Aug. 3, 2006
- I Think We Need to Talk – Prince Turki Al-Faisal – SUSRIS – Jun 20, 2006
- Educational Reforms in Saudi Arabia: We’re Trying Hard to Change – Prince Turki al-Faisal – SUSRIS – Jun 8, 2006
- Perspectives on Conflicts, Cooperation and Crises: A Conversation with Saudi Arabia’s New Ambassador to the United States – Part 2 – SUSRIS Exclusive Interview – Mar 14, 2006
- Outreach and Engagement: A Conversation with Saudi Arabia’s New Ambassador to the United States – Part 1 – SUSRIS Exclusive Interview – Mar 9, 2006
- Tackling the Information Gap – Saudi Arabia’s New Ambassador to U.S. Promises Openness and Engagement – Patrick W. Ryan – SUSRIS – Mar 8, 2006
- Prince Turki al-Faisal Talks With Charlie Rose – Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US Takes His Message to Americans – Part 1 – Relations, Oil – SUSRIS – Feb 18, 2006
- Prince Turki al-Faisal Talks With Charlie Rose – Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US Takes His Message to Americans – Part 2 – Iraq, Iran, War on Terror – SUSRIS – Feb 18, 2006
- Prince Turki al-Faisal Talks With Charlie Rose – Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US Takes His Message to Americans – Part 3 – Middle East Peace – SUSRIS – Feb 18, 2006
- Issues of the Day: Saudi Ambassador to the US On Sunday Talk Show – SUSRIS – Feb 6, 2006
- Community and Cooperation – Prince Turki Al-Faisal – SUSRIS – Dec 2, 2005
- The Global Scourge of Terrorism: Ambassador Prince Turki al Faisal Shares His Outlook – SUSRIS – Nov 8, 2005
- Prince Turki Al-Faisal’s Views on Terrorist Attacks and Bin Laden – SUSRIS – Dec 7, 2004
- Biography – Prince Turki al-Faisal – SUSRIS