Saudi Crown Prince MBS 'wants out' of Yemen war

Leaked emails show Mohammed bin Salman expressing desire to end conflict during talks with former US officials.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has told two former American officials that he "wants out" of the two-year war he started in Yemen, and that he is not against US rapprochement with Iran, according to leaked emails published by the Middle East Eye.

The revelation sheds light on the thinking of Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the 31-year-old heir to the Saudi throne, also known as MBS.

The leaks pertain to discussions he held on the Middle East with Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, and Steven Hadley, who served as US national security adviser during George W Bush's presidency.

The conversation took place at least one month before Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of trying to undermine their war in Yemen and for having friendly relations with Iran.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia 'seeks Iraq's help' to mend ties with Iran

The details of the meeting between MBS and the former American officials were revealed in an email exchange, between Indyk and Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador in Washington, DC.

The email exchange was obtained by the GlobalLeaks campaign group according to the Middle East Eye.

Otaiba and Indyk were discussing the difference between the young MBS and the elder leadership of Saudi Arabia, with the former describing him as a "pragmatic leader".

The emails also paint a picture of how Otaiba and the UAE leadership view the future Saudi Arabia.

The conflict in Yemen has escalated dramatically since March 2015, when Saudi-led forces launched a military operation against the Iran-allied Houthi fighters.

Since the conflict began, more than 10,000 people have been killed and millions have been driven from their homes. 

The Saudi-led operation has been blamed for the spread of cholera in Yemen, where an estimated 500,000 have been reportedly afflicted.

In the exchange, Indyk was quoted as telling Otaiba that MBS made it "quite clear" to him and Hadley that "he is OK with the US engaging Iran as long as it is co-ordinated [sic] in advance and the objectives are clear."

The revelations come a day after Qasim al-Araji, Iraq's interior minister, reportedly said that both Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and MBS had asked Baghdad to act as an intermediary and help mend relations between Riyadh and Tehran.

On July 30, MBS met Muqtada al-Sadr during the influential Iraqi Shia leader's rare visit to Saudi Arabia. 

The emails also revealed conversations between Otaiba and Elliott Abrams, former Bush administration official and pro-Israel hawk, who described the UAE's objectives in the region as the "new hegemon" and "Emirati imperialism".

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