Bandar’s departure from Saudi intelligence


For the past 18 months Bandar had led Saudi efforts to better co-ordinate the supply of weapons to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. But he faced criticism for backing extreme Islamist groups and thus risking a repeat of the "blowback" that brought Osama bin Laden's Saudi fighters home after the officially sanctioned jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Bandar's departure is not a complete surprise. Amid unprecedented tensions in relations between Riyadh and Washington, there had been signs he had fallen from favour and had in effect already been sidelined on Syria. "Bandar's approach was very black and white," said one well placed observer. "And he seems to have over-promised to the king in terms of confidently predicting Assad's departure."  The Guardian


IMO Bandar bin Sultan's departure does signal a Saudi policy shift on Syria.  The anti-jihadi forces within the royal family seem to have won the king's support in the absence of any progress in removing Bashar Assad from office.

Prince Nayaf's side of the family is hostile to the idea of doing anything that favors jihadis anywhere and Nayaf is the big winner in Bandar's departure. 

It is likely that we will see an attempt by Saudi Arabia to "mend fences" with Assad.

Bandar badly overplayed his hand in the Syria game and has now paid the price.  Good.  pl

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13 Responses to Bandar’s departure from Saudi intelligence

  1. The beaver says:

    It is surprising how this news differs, depending on which side has sympathy for him or not.
    Al-Manar , Hizb’Allah TV has been saying that the king forced him out (2 days ago) and since yesterday we are learning from the news agencies that Bandar asked to be relieved from his post and be replaced as an interim by his assistant.
    Last month, another Lebanese news portal announced his return in his position as the chief spy after two months of absence ( supposedly because of sickness)
    and then yesterday , according to the daily star,
    “In a royal decree, the powerful official was “exempted… from his position at his own request” and replaced by his deputy, Yousef al-Idrissi.”
    Mind boggling 🙂

  2. Alba Etie says:

    I take this as more evidence that the Realist both here and Abroad are winning the day against the neocon , R2P , and assorted other Exceptionalist carpetbaggers . We shall see.

  3. gemini333 says:


  4. Bandar had an amazing run IMO probably worth a book or books.

  5. Valissa says:

    It was too early this morning to toast to this great news. But it’s now a bit after 8pm EDT, so I am drinking a shot of very fine vodka made from Maine potatoes in Freeport, ME, in honor of this momentous occasion.
    Skal! (I’m Danish-American)

  6. bth says:

    Col., in the past week or so Syrian rebels posted on Youtube and RT also discussed this week Syrian rebel acquisition and use of a limited number of BGM-71 US anti-tank systems supposedly provided via Saudi Arabia and there were claims of 20 out of 20 hits on Syrian tanks at several kilometer distance in the recent week. Anyway I just note the timing of this development and Bandar’s resignation and the Russian push in Ukraine perhaps being linked to a higher price in Syria for all concerned. Just speculation on my part and would welcome a correction if wrong, but wouldn’t something like this be on the agenda in Obama’s recent visit to Saudi? Something to the effect we agree to arm the more moderate rebels but Saudi’s agrees to reign in the extremists?

  7. Amir says:

    Wasn’t he supposedly a victim of a suicide bomber a while back but turned out to be alive and well after a few months?

  8. abusinan says:

    I didnt hear the suicide bomber theory. What I heard is that he disappeared for awhile because he had run up against the wrong people. He was rehabilitated and put in the position he was.

  9. The beaver says:

    There was one circa 2012:
    Then, afterwards he was shown in a picture sitting two seats away from the king during a shindig or a pan-Arab pow-wow.

  10. Thomas says:

    “Second, we are on very good terms with Saudi Arabia. We may, for example, differ in terms of our views on Syria, but we practically have identical positions on the development of the situation in Egypt. There are many other things where we see eye-to-eye.
    I have great respect for the custodian of the two Muslim shrines, the King of Saudi Arabia. He is a very clever and balanced man. I don’t think that our Saudi friends would make any abrupt changes to harm themselves and the Russian economy.”
    This quote from Putin’s news conference yesterday could point that Bandar’s symbolic “beheading” was a diplomatic signal by the Kingdom for closer cooperation in the future.
    Unfortunately for US, our president could never be called (truthfully) a clever and balanced man.

  11. SA friends tell me that Bandar is willing to retire from the public scene and enjoy his vast wealth. Maybe?

  12. Alba Etie says:

    Its being reported a large number of AQ where killed in Yemen past two days . Are the patrons of AQ in Riyadh being furthered pushed back ?

  13. Thomas says:

    Nah, merely reinvesting in the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham since they are actually clearing out competitors, holding territory militarily, and building a sharia state. Then again it is what you would expect from the Republican Guards Alumni Association.

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