Saudi in­tel­li­gence chief Ban­dar bin Sul­tan re­moved

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Saudi Ara­bia’s in­tel­li­gence chief, Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan, has been re­moved from his post “at his own re­quest”, state me­dia re­port.

Prince Ban­dar, King Ab­dul­lah’s nephew and a for­mer am­bas­sador to the US, re­cently re­turned to Riyadh af­ter two months abroad for med­i­cal treat­ment.

The 65 year old has been re­placed by his deputy, Gen Youssef al-Idrissi.

His de­par­ture comes months af­ter he was quoted warn­ing of a “ma­jor shift” from the US over its Mid­dle East pol­icy.

Largely in protest over Wash­ing­ton’s re­luc­tance to get in­volved mil­i­tar­ily in Syria, he re­port­edly told Euro­pean diplo­mats in Oc­to­ber that Saudi Ara­bia would be scal­ing back its co-oper­a­tion with the CIA over arm­ing and train­ing rebel groups seek­ing to top­ple Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad.

A trip to Moscow to press Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to aban­don his sup­port for the Syr­ian govern­ment also failed to pro­duce re­sults.

“He had been more or less dis­en­gaged from the Syr­ian file for the past five months,” Mustafa Alani, a se­cu­rity ex­pert with close ties to the Saudi govern­ment, told the Reuters news agency.

“The re­spon­si­bil­ity was di­vided be­tween a num­ber of people - of­fi­cers in the in­tel­li­gence sphere and other princes. So the re­al­ity is that any changes have al­ready hap­pened.”

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Prince Mo­hammed bin Nayef is be­lieved to have taken over­all con­trol of the king­dom’s Syria pol­icy and at­tended a meet­ing of Western and Arab in­tel­li­gence agencies in Wash­ing­ton in Fe­bru­ary.

As head of the Gen­eral In­tel­li­gence Pres­i­dency, Prince Ban­dar was also said to have been closely in­volved in sup­port­ing Egypt’s mil­i­tary-backed in­terim govern­ment af­ter Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi was ousted in July.

The royal de­cree quoted by the Saudi Press Agency on Mon­day did not say if the prince would con­tinue as head of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. BBC

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