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.
Forces loyal to Yemen’s president-in-exile say they have taken southern Lahij province from Houthis pro-Saleh forces
Waqf official, Palestinian guards, detained after settlers raise Israel flag in mosque compound
Independent oil producers operating in the region will be paid directly by KRG, ignoring agreement with Baghdad
The former Saudi soldier was given a jail sentence for joining ISIL as well as being fined for taking part in rifle training.
Loyalists recapture the al-Anad base after 24-hour battle
Lavrov says, 'it's counterproductive to announce publicly that US-trained armed groups will be under protection of coalition's air forces'
Report addresses killing of toddler burned to death in West Bank, foreign minister says
Democratic Union Party’s armed wing expels residents of town in Aleppo after wresting it from ISIL
Police says they ordered an investigation to 'examine offensive publications against the president on social media'
Palestinian NGO says, 930 Jewish settlers, 200 Israeli security personnel forced way into flashpoint site in July
Tension mounts in West Bank following last week’s murder of 18-month-old Palestinian boy by Jewish extremists
Gulf Arab leaders want Iran's nuclear deal to bring stability in the region
'Putin's current attitude toward Syria is more encouraging than before,' Erdogan said
Egypt has not had a parliament since the dissolution of its 2012 assembly. The signing of election law will now pave the way for holding parliamentary polls for the country.
'Egypt remains vital to engagement and stability in the region as a whole,' says Kerry