Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia Condemns Hamas, Israel, and the West

In a speech delivered by Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia at Rice University in Houston, he openly criticized both Hamas and Israel for their attacks on civilians in the ongoing violence in the Middle East. This speech, considered unusually frank for a member of the Saudi royal family, sheds light on the Saudi leadership’s stance on the situation. Prince Turki condemned Hamas for their attack on southern Israel and Israel for its subsequent bombardment of Gaza. He emphasized that there were no heroes in this conflict, only victims. His condemnation of Hamas stands out as a rare voice of criticism from an Arab figure in the current climate of Arab anger towards Israeli air strikes. Prince Turki also criticized Israel for indiscriminate bombings in Gaza and the arrest of Palestinians in the West Bank. He disputed the US media’s use of the phrase “unprovoked attack” in reference to the 7 October raid, highlighting the decades-long provocation the Palestinian people have faced. Furthermore, he condemned Western politicians for showing sorrow only when Israelis are killed but not expressing the same for Palestinians killed by Israel. The speech raises questions about the Saudi leadership’s motives and signals a potential shift in their stance on the conflict. Prince Turki’s background as a former diplomat and spy chief, as well as his US and British education, provides him with a unique perspective on Western culture and thinking, and valuable connections with decision-makers in Washington and Whitehall. Though he does not hold a formal position in the Saudi government, his speeches offer insights into Saudi thinking. The speech also reveals Saudi Arabia’s discomfort with Hamas and its alignment with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s historic rival. While Saudi Arabia and Iran formally resolved their dispute earlier this year, mutual mistrust remains. Despite their differences, both Saudi Arabia and Iran have jointly condemned Israel’s actions and expressed support for a Palestinian state. It is worth noting that just weeks before the Hamas raid, Saudi Arabia was on track to normalize ties with Israel, which is now put on hold. Analysts speculate that the raid aimed to sabotage this normalization and prevent Hamas and Iran from being sidelined in the region. The future of the region remains uncertain, with an injured Israel resistant to compromise and Arab governments closely monitoring the anti-Israel protests taking place. Once the current conflict in Gaza concludes, Saudi Arabia’s significant financial resources may play a role in funding its reconstruction. Observing Prince Turki’s future speeches will offer further insights into Saudi Arabia’s perspective on the unfolding events.