Prince Turki al-Faisal is the king's nephew and the former head of Saudi Intelligence.
The US-led invasion of Iraq was a colonial war and there were some in the United States who saw it as a means of getting their hands on Iraqi oil, Prince Turki Al-Faisal was quoted as saying yesterday.
The ambassador to Britain and Ireland told the Irish Independent newspaper Washington’s stated aims in going to war in Iraq masked a more cynical reality.
“No matter how exalted the aims of the US in that war, in the final analysis it was a colonial war very similar to the wars conducted by the ex-colonial powers when they went out to conquer the rest of the world...,” Prince Turki said.
“What we have heard from American sources (is that) they were there to remove the weapons of mass destruction which Saddam Hussein was supposed to have acquired.”
Saudi Arabia opposed the war despite tensions with Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
“What we read and hear from our commentators in America and sometimes congressional sources, if you remember going back a year ago, there was the issue of the oil reserves in Iraq and that in a year or two they would be producing so much oil in Iraq that, as it were, the war would pay for itself,” the envoy said.
“(This) indicated that there were those in America who were thinking in those terms of acquiring the natural resources of Iraq for America.” Prince Turki said US pledges to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq remained “still just aims.”
“The individual Iraqi, until he can actually declare that his government is truly representative of his wishes and aspirations must still consider himself occupied,” he said.
On the wider conflict in the Middle East, Prince Turki described Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as “a living martyr”, persecuted by an Israel “that is ruthless and generally devoid of any human considerations (toward the Palestinians).”
The prince described Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network as “not so much an organization as a cult with a cult leader and a cult philosophy...”
“One of the main drawbacks of the operations in Afghanistan is that Bin Laden has not been caught,” he said. “To bring Bin Laden to justice will go a long way to removing some of his mystique.”