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Saudi Intelligence Chief Sacked by King

(1 Post)
zarrinnet Wed 16-Apr-14 10:19:35

The Saudi state-run TV announced minutes ago that the country's King has accepted Sultan's resignation tendered days ago.

Sultan had left the country a few months ago on the pretext of medical treatment, but last week security sources in Riyadh said he would return to the kingdom within days after spending around two months abroad for surgery and retake his position as intelligence chief, including control of the Syrian dossier.

Bandar bin Sultan has been replaced with his deputy Marshal Yousef Al-Idrisi.

During Prince Bandar's absence, Saudi Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef was put in charge of the Syrian file and of the intelligence agency.

The security officials said last week that the 65 year-old prince was seeking medical attention in the US and resting in Morocco after surgery on his shoulder.

Bandar, who formerly served as Saudi ambassador to the US for 22 years, has had special responsibility for the Levant for years, leading Saudi intelligence and strategic affairs in the region. Analysts and intelligence sources have repeatedly said that Bandar has been the key figure trying to boost Saudi weapons flow to Syrian rebel forces seeking to oust President Bashar Assad's government.

The security sources said that Bandar held a number of official meetings while in Morocco, including with Saudi deputy defense minister Salman bin Sultan.

The deputy defense minister briefed Bandar on his official visits to Washington and Paris last month, they added, also saying that Bandar met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan while in Marrakech.

Informed sources had revealed in December that Bandar would be sidelined because the King and a large number of other Saudi princes were unhappy with his handling of Syria's crisis.

A top Saudi diplomat had previously told the Associated Press that Bandar could not have taken any decisions without King Abdullah's approval, including his moves with regard to Syria.

He said that the interior minister took over Bandar's responsibilities in his absence because he too had experience in dealing with security affairs.

In September Saudi princes in a letter to King Abdullah protested at Bandar Bin Sultan's failure in coaxing the US into a war on Syria to topple President Bashar al-Assad's government.

"The letter was signed by 17 influential Saudi princes and was submitted to King Abdullah's Chief of Staff," a Saudi source close to King Abdullah's monarchy, who asked to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of his information, told FNA on September 18.

The source also revealed that since the Saudi King and his Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz were not in good health conditions, the King's Chief of Staff controlled the country's affairs and the Saudi princes presented the letter to him to protest at Prince Bandar's weak performance on Syria.

The source said that Bandar's failure in persuading the US and its allies to wage war on Syria has created deep differences among the Saudi princes.

Earlier reports said that Prince Bandar Bin Sultan has spent tens of millions of dollars to persuade the US political and security officials to launch a military strike on Syria.

Prince Bandar has spent a sum of $70 million to encourage the American officials to attack Syria, a Saudi security source told FNA in Riyadh late August.

The US and Saudi Arabia are considered as among the main actors in the Middle East and many strategic regional parameters are formed by them and their interactions in the region. Prince Bandar has recently played an increasing role in the security developments in the region.

Prince Bandar who was appointed by King Abdullah as the National Security Council and intelligence chief after 8 years of ambassadorial job in Washington has played a key role in Washington-Riyadh relations over the past decades.

Prince Bandar’s unique coordination with the US intelligence bodies has actually turned him into a major US field commander in the region to relentlessly direct the developments of the Middle East and the Muslim World in the US interest.

American author Bob Woodward’s book titled Plan of Attack, published in 2004, said Prince Bandar has played an important role in former US President George W. Bush’s decision to attack Iraq in 2003.

Prince Bandar is a member of the Saudi Royal family who was Saudi Ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005 before being appointed as the Arab country’s intelligence chief.

Prince Bandar has closely contacted five US presidents, 10 foreign ministers, 11 national security advisors and hundreds of other American statesmen during his tenure as Saudi envoy to the US. Prince Bandar is said to be the first Saudi ambassador to have information about US State Department’s security details.

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