HRH Prince Bandar bin Sultan was recently appointed as the head of the Saudi Intelligence Services. A follower of American Bedu raised a very good question for discussion based on this appointment. Would Prince Bandard’s former position as a Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983 until 2005 have the United States make more favorable decisions to Saudi Arabia?
To start with, I think Prince Bandar was appointed as head of the Saudi Intelligence Services for reasons with greater priority than the relationship or decisions made between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Prince Bandar has an uncanny knack and talent for getting in behind the scenes of places and issues with conflict. He is a problem solver and knows how to “cut to the chase” regardless of country, culture and issue.
Right now, I think he is going to be extremely busy with tracking and mounting operations against elements within the Kingdom who wish to do harm to the people and resources. He will also be kept quite occupied with what is happening around the region, especially with Syria, Egypt and Yemen.
The United States has its own plans and agenda for what it would like to see happening in Syria, Egypt and Yemen. It wants democracy in Syria and Egypt and for Al Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula to be destroyed in Yemen. Saudi Arabia wanta to see greater stability in Syria and Egypt but does not define or see democracy in the same way as America. Therefore, there will be common interests but with divides. Both are on the same page as wishing to see Al Qaida destroyed.
Prince Bandar formed probably one of the closest relationships a foreign Ambassador to the United States could have with a host country government. He not only had a fondness for the United States and Americans but he is also a master chameleon. He can adapt himself to any role with any person. This will be significant in his new position as master spymaster.
Yet it can not be overlooked that his relationship with the United States government suffered after September 2000. Once United States government authorities made allegations of his wife allegedly having involvement with Al Qaida tainted charities, his relationship with the United States changed. The incident was overblown in the press and brought severe criticism against Prince Bandar and his wife. To falsely taint the reputation of the wife of such a respected Saudi official is an unforgiveable offense . Shortly thereafter Prince Bandar began his plans to leave the United States and step down as the Dean of the Ambassadorial Corps.
Saudi intelligence and American intelligence services will continue to cooperate on issues of mutual interest. No one probably knows or understands the mindset of U.S. intelligence better than Prince Bandar and those closest to him. If anyone can influence the direction of U.S. intelligence interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, it likely is Prince Bandar.
There is no doubt that Prince Bandar is someone an intelligence organization wants on their side. Personally, I think this is a critical time of history for Saudi Arabia, the GCC and the rest of the world and the right time for Prince Bandar to head Saudi’s intelligence service.