CIA awards Saudi crown prince with medal for counter-terrorism work

Prince Muhammed bin Nayef given George Tenet award by agency chief Mike Pompeo for contributions to 'realising world security and peace'

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The Independent Online

A royal next-in-line to Saudi Arabia’s throne has been given a top honour by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for his contributions to fighting terrorism.

Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef was presented with the George Tenet medal by  CIA director Mike Pompeo during the new chief's first overseas visit to Turkey over the weekend, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The medal was awarded in recognition of Prince bin Nayef’s “excellent intelligence performance, in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realise world security and peace“.

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The prince, 57, has served as interior minister since 2012 and has worked to crack down on al-Qaeda’s operations in Saudi Arabia for many years. In 2009, he survived an assassination attempt by the group.

As well as bestowing the honour, Prince bin Nayef and Mr Pompeo discussed security with Turkish officials in what has been widely seen as a reaffirmation of ties between Riyadh and Washington DC since US President Donald Trump took office last month.

The prince told SPA that “no attempt will succeed in driving a wedge between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the US”.

While relations between the kingdom and Barack Obama’s White House frayed during his tenure over the US’ attitude towards the civil war in Syria and striking a nuclear deal with Saudi Arabian foe Iran, the two countries have maintained ties over oil and counter-terrorism strategies for decades. 

Mr Pompeo is an outspoken critic of the 2015 international nuclear deal with lifted crippling sanctions on Iran in exchange for agreed curbs on the country’s nuclear programme. He also sees Iran as a major source of many Middle Eastern conflicts since Tehran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution - a view shared by Saudi Arabia.