Friday, July 29, 2005

Why The Saudi Envoy Really Went Home

Asia Times Online, Hong Kong


The Saudi ruling family has tried to convince the world that everything is just as it should be inside the kingdom in the two months since the ailing King Fahd was hospitalized with chronic pneumonia. But the resignation this week of Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years, and the announcement that he will be replaced by the current London ambassador, Prince Turki al-Faisal, heightens speculation that an announcement of the king's death is imminent. Bandar's dramatic return to Riyadh will allow him to jostle for position when Crown Prince Abdullah becomes king. … Indeed, the main reason behind the resignation of Prince Bandar is believed to be the friction-creating situation between him and Abdullah, and the latter's increasing dependence on Adel al-Jubair, his private counselor in Washington, for communicating messages to the US administration. Turki, meanwhile, is a brother of Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who announced Bandar's resignation in Riyadh last week, even though Bandar had issued a statement denying the fact a week before. Saud is Abdullah's closest ally. The jostling for position has clearly begun. … Those waiting in the wings who are most disciplined and determined – and desperate to seize the oil wealth and claim all the prestige that comes with the governorship of the two holy shrines – are the followers of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.

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