News / Middle East

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

FILE - Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan seen at his palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 4, 2008.
FILE - Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan seen at his palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 4, 2008.
Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, has stepped down from his post. His resignation came at "his own request," according to Saudi state media.  The 65 year old prince is being replaced by his deputy, General Youssef al Idrissi.

Bandar had been spearheading Saudi efforts to unseat Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the bitter and bloody Syrian civil war, supporting various Sunni rebel factions.  The Saudi prince had faced criticism for reportedly working with al-Qaida as part of those efforts.

American University of Beirut Professor Hilal Khashan told VOA that supporting al-Qaida is a sore spot in the kingdom, which struggled 10 years to evict the group from its soil.

"There was a prelude to dismissing him a few months ago.  The Saudis announced they would put on trial any Saudi fighting in Syria and Bandar invested in supporting al-Qaida in Syria, he wanted to get rid of the Syrian regime at any cost, even to the point of working with al-Qaida.  So, the moment the Saudis decided to ban Saudis from going to Syria it became clear Bandar's approach to Syria has failed and the Saudis were about to alter their policy on Syria," he said.

Khashan says other Saudi princes feared Bandar's support for al-Qaida in Syria would come back to haunt them.

"He fell from grace because obviously he failed in Syria. Since 2006, when he was appointed as the kingdom's intelligence boss, he disappeared from the scene four times, mainly because he kept clashing with members of the royal family.  He is a difficult person and I understand he is arrogant and was sent abroad on the pretext of seeking medical service, he said," said Khashan.

Security analyst Anthony Cordesman, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, is more cautious assessing the reason for Bandar's resignation.  He spoke to VOA ((Persian News Network)) via Skype.

“Let’s be blunt. First, this kind of speculation about changes in the Saudi royal family has a history of decades worth of being wrong. In the case of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, there are a couple of realities to understand…he’s had a long history of medical problems….he’s had a long history of working well with the King and the royal court. Now, no one can dismiss the possibility that a policy issue was involved, but when you have this kind of medical history and this kind of relationship with the other princes one has to be very careful about saying that this is a policy related issue," he said.

Cordesman also disputes suggestions that Bandar was the main funder or control point for radical militants in Syria.

Prince Bandar's resignation was cheered by Saudi adversaries including Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Could Bandar's departure provide any possibility of improved understanding between Saudi Arabia and Iran?   Cordesman doesn't think so.  

“You have to be very careful here. Prince Saud, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, has been absolutely clear about his concern over Iran’s role in Iraq, Iran’s role in Bahrain, Iran’s role in Yemen and Iran’s role in Syria and Lebanon.  Now one could argue whether all of those concerns are valid or not, but this is the position that is certainly the official position of the Saudi government…..at least as yet, Prince Bandar’s role is not going to make that kind of shift," said Cordesman.

Prince Bandar was a well-known figure in Washington, where he served as Saudi ambassador for nearly 30 years.  But his more recent relations with the United States had been rocky.  He reportedly criticized the Obama administration for not supplying Syrian rebels with heavy weaponry and was reported to have threatened on several occasions to affect a “major shift” away from the Saudi kingdom's long alliance with Washington.

((VOA's Persian News Network and Edward Yeranian in Cairo contributed to this report))

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
April 17, 2014 1:19 AM
One has to have a good understanding of Islam before making rumored statements about Muslims and Islam.
Saudi Arabia is not the headquarter of any Muslim sect, but the family rulers practice back-warded feudal system.US is the sole supporter and protector of Saudi family.It's quiet obvious that what whatever the government of Saudi do, say it terrorism activities, they do it with the White House blessings.


by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
April 16, 2014 11:11 PM
This is very sad affairs, as to fullfil Saudi Arabia Wish to remove Assad from office,SA is cooperating with Isarel and Al Qaida( AQ BIRTH PLACE SA). I been to SA for some business trips and I saw LOCALS were selling dates in Madina,Begging near Macca and Mina. Locals are living poor standard of life.ONLY ROYAL FAMILY have rights to enjoy their life with billions of dollars income from oil income. All Royal Family member have LAVISH houses in Europe and USA at the cost of poor Saudis. Saudis are paying taxes for their daily life but RF exempted from any type of taxes. I saw houses in Madina and Macca for locals in very miserable conditions. SA suppose to build hospitals,education institutions and other social works in needy Muslim countries but in place of this SA is willing to PAY USA AND ISRAEL to dismantle Syria completely. Because of miserable failure in Syria that is why Bandar asked to surrender resignation, otherwise who who will resign this type of postion with full of entertainment day or night. If RF have wisdom then they should share OIL INCOME with masses.Oil income is not for RF entertainment. Saudia must recognise other faith of religion and they should allow to open Church for expatriate huge papoulation.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
April 16, 2014 2:29 PM
If the Saudis are saying this about al qaida, who then is al qaida? Beast of no nation? If the prince has access to al qaida, it means the group cannot be as elusive as they seem. But look at the man's face, under the basket over his head, does he look smart enough to handle such an office? It's not fitting at all. Now al qaida is a sunni muslim terrorist organization, and Saudi Arabia is the headquarters of sunni islam, has the eye of the fish missed to be found in the head of the fish? Or does it go to show that truly al qaida is an American thing?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid