The wide-ranging interview with Time has shown that Riyadh’s views on Syria’s future might have changed.
“Bashar is staying. But I believe that Bashar’s interests are not to let the Iranians do whatever they want they want to do,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the media outlet.
Having focused on Syria, bin Salman said that US military presence in the country was indispensable.
“We believe American troops should stay for at least the mid-term, if not the long-term.”
The Saudi Crown Prince proceeded to warn of the possible dangers the decision to withdraw troops from eastern Syria might lead to.
“If you take those troops out from eastern Syria, you will lose that checkpoint. And this corridor could create a lot of things in the region,” Time cited him as saying.
His comments came shortly after President Donald Trump had announced that US troops would be pulled out from the war-weary country.
“By the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS*. We’re coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now, very soon. Very soon, we’re coming out,” he told a crowd in Ohio.
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh targets in Syria without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. Syrian authorities have repeatedly called the US military presence in the country "illegal."
Earlier this week, the leader of Hezbollah claimed that Riyadh had offered Syria hundreds of billions of dollars in funds for post-war reconstruction if Damascus severed ties with Iran.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS, a terrorist group banned in Russia