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