World Bulletin / News Desk
Saudi Arabia has replaced intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz with its former ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Press Agency said on Thursday, citing a royal decree.
Prince Bandar, who was the kingdom's envoy to Washington for 22 years, a period spanning the first Gulf War and the Sep 11 2001 attacks on the United States, takes the portfolio at a time when Saudi Arabia faces growing instability in its immediate region.
"There was a feeling that we needed stronger intelligence and Bandar has a history of this sort," said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi commentator with ties to the royal family.
"We are witnessing the start of a new Middle East with the collapse of the (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad regime. We are worried about Jordan and Lebanon," he said.
Bandar has headed Saudi Arabia's National Security Council for seven years but has shunned the limelight since leaving his Washington post in 2005.
"He's been close to that position heading the National Security Council and is very well aware of the intelligence apparatus. He's also been involved in Saudi security issues of the highest order for the last 10 years," said Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03.
Jordan, who said he worked closely with Prince Bandar during that time, and described him as "the ultimate shuttle diplomat", said the appointment might help strengthen the alliance between Washington and its closest Arab ally.
Prince Bandar is a son of the late Crown Prince Sultan, who died last October and had served as defence minister for five decades.
In the sprawling ruling family, Sultan was one of seven brothers born to the kingdom's founder by his favourite wife and known collectively as the Sudairis, who formed the strongest power bloc in the House of Saud.
The kingdom's new heir apparent, Crown Prince Salman, is also a Sudairi, as is the new Interior Minister Prince Ahmed.
The royal decree carried by SPA said outgoing intelligence head Prince Muqrin, the youngest son of the kingdom's founder Abdulaziz ibn Saud, had been appointed a special envoy and adviser to King Abdullah, who is 89.
It added that Prince Bandar would retain his role as secretary general of the National Security Council.
Aleppo residents have told the Middle East Eye news service that Russian 'bunker buster' bombs are making ground shake like an earthquake
Sunday's killing of prominent writer accused of showing contempt for religion sparks protests in Jordan’s capital
"I think now it's not a question of talking about a ceasefire," Major General Ahmed Assiri said.
Former SDF figure says PKK commanders want to head towards Turkey after establishing cantons in Syria
Two rounds of UN-brokered peace talks failed to end the Yemeni conflict
Meshaal, 60, was elected the head of Hamas’ political bureau in 1996
Opposition forces now stand 15 kilometers away from Hama city, which has a military airport
Palestinian prisoners announce three-day hunger strike in protest against Hamdouna's death
The Security Council was set to meet Sunday to discuss the upsurge in violence since the Syrian army announced an offensive to retake the rebel-held east of the devastated city.
More than 900 square kilometers have been cleansed of extremists in northern Syria, according to the Turkish army
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says hard to believe US-led coalition forces forgot locations during Sept. 17 airstrike
Egyptian authorities have not yet released any official statement on the reported arrests
Saturday’s verdicts are still subject to appeal
Facing the Senate Armed Services Committer, General Joseph Dunford and Defense Secretary Ash Carter reported on the ongoing military operations and admitted that removing Assad was not a priority for the US
Residential districts pounded by airstrikes, killing and injuring hundreds, with toll expected to rise with survivors claiming the attacks were akin to doomsday
Mr Lavrov laid the blame on the US for failing to control the rebel groups it backs saying there was no other alternative for Syria except for the US-Russia agreement