July 30, 2012

Bandar is back! (And maybe gone, too)

In the Weekly Standard, Elliott Abrams -- who was convicted of lying to Congress in Iran-Contra, pardoned by George H.W. Bush, and then became the Go-To Guy on the Middle East in the GWB Administration, and remains an in-law of the Podhoretzes -- blogs enthusiastically:
For 22 years, Bandar bin Sultan was Saudi Arabia’s influential, irrepressible ambassador in Washington. After years in eclipse, he has just been named as head of the kingdom’s intelligence service. What does it all mean? 
Prince Bandar lived large: Not only did he have the official ambassador’s residence, but also his own 32-room mansion in Aspen

In 1992, I had meetings down the street from Bandar's Aspen place at my boss's 17,000 square foot house, which was the size of Bandar's guest house. The Saudi's main house was 55,000 square feet. I talked to a whitewater rafting guide who had once had a construction job installing the deadman security system in the Ambassador's driveway. If suicide terrorists driving a truck bomb shot their way past the guardhouse, so nobody could hold their hand on the safety switch, giant steel spikes would automatically shoot up from the pavement to stop the terrorists' vehicle.
and a 2,000 acre estate in England. He was a very visible figure from 1983 to 2005 as the Saudi envoy in Washington. This was partly due to the parties he gave, and the very wide network of connections he built, but also because he was an effective diplomat. Spanning the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and second Bush presidencies, he made sure Saudi views were known, dealt directly with officials at the top of the U.S. government (including presidents), and could get things done. ... Now they may return, with an energetic and experienced player who can match anyone in the Arab world for charm, a network of contacts, and the financial resources of a rich government. Bandar is a spinner of webs, a dealmaker, a man who—assuming he is healthy—can bring Saudi views and interests back to the center of Arab decision making as well as the inner circles in many other world capitals.

On the other hand, there's a rumor going about in the Israeli newspapers that Bandar has already been assassinated by the Syrians in retaliation for organizing, with American help, the July 18 bombing in Damascus that killed some of Assad's inner circle.

Obviously, anybody who wonders about Saudi-raised Hilary adviser Huma Abedin's contacts is some kind of lunatic conspiracy theorist. Everybody knows there are no such things as conspiracies, especially not in the Middle East. That Syria was once part of the Byzantine Empire doesn't mean there is anything Byzantine about affairs of state there.

Anyway, if this really is the end for Bandar (and who knows?), I hope there is a safe deposit box somewhere in Switzerland containing a final draft of The Autobiography of Prince Bandar bin Sultan. I bet even the thought that such a manuscript might conceivably exist makes numerous Important People sweaty.


Anonymous said...

I made a wikipedia research on Bandar and I founf this:

"After the 9/11 attacks, in an interview in the New York Times, he stated, “Bin Laden used to come to us when America—underline, America—through the CIA and Saudi Arabia, were helping our brother mujahideen in Afghanistan, to get rid of the communist secularist Soviet Union forces. Osama bin Laden came and said ‘Thank you. Thank you for bringing the Americans to help us.’"


Anonymous said...

This is the Saudi royal with the African ancestry from his concubine mother.

ATBOTL said...

From Wikipedia: "In 2007, during his tenure as National Security Secretary, Bandar proposed that the Kingdom have greater contact with Israel, because he regarded Iran as a more serious threat than Israel."

How many people in the "Saudi street" share that sentiment? Saudi Arabia is an oppressive, Islamic fundamentalist dictatorship, which against the wishes of the people who live there, ignores the plight of Palestinians and serves as America's puppet.

SA is a house of cards that could come crashing down at any minute. A man like Prince Bandar would be ripped limb from limb by his subjects if they ever have the chance.

Anonymous said...

I put his name in at Google, to search for pictures... The man does know how to party. He's no religious prude.

Whiskey said...

ATBOTL -- No one in the world cares about the Palestinians. No one. Certainly not the Egyptian and Saudi man in the Street. The seething mass of ignorant and superstitious Muslims hate Jews with a passion, and wish to exterminate them all, but don't care one whit about the Palestinians. And more than they hate Jews, they fear their Shia neighbors who want their land and have the numbers to take it.

SA has proven remarkably resilient, not the least of which it applies the traditional methods of patronage and oppression, money to the masses and a nasty secret police, coupled with deals with Islamists and exporting revolution. People have been predicting revolution there since the 1979 Mecca Mosque take-over and bloody shoot-out. And its failed every time.

The one kicker is that the leadership is aging and the younger generation is less able (and realistic about what may and may not be accomplished). But anything that replaces the current loathesome Kingdom will be assuredly worse, likely endless communal massacres of Shia vs. Sunni.

Anonymous said...


Who was Obama in 2008? Just have faith in him as the messiah.

But when it comes to Romney, SCRUTINIZE every little thing he says and does.

Anonymous said...

ATBOTL, your habit of stating fishwife commonsense "facts" with complete confidence when you're so often wildly wrong has been a source of great humor for a while now.

The average Saudi, the average *ARAB* in fact, despises Iran far more than than they despise Israel. To be fair, the way they feel about each government is best expressed in more complicated equations than on a simple hate-o-meter but your repeated certitude on subjects where you're so evidently ignorant can't be whitewashed whatsoever. Travel a bit BITEBALL, or at least, you know, read a book.

Anonymous said...


"Obama asks public schools to ignore bad behavior by black students"

Just like the media ignored his bad behavior since 2008.

And of course, we are supposed to ignore bad behavior of Jews in Wall Street, Washington, and Tel Aviv.

And we are to ignore bad behavior by illegal aliens.

And bad behavior of gays that got them sick from HIV.


Never mind that most school administrators and teachers are LIBERALS. So, what is Obama saying? Liberals are 'racist'?

RKU said...

Yes, this is all interesting about Bandar.

I seem to recall that a few years ago TAC's Phil Giraldi (ex-CIA) wrote a column claiming that Bandar had been caught red-handed trying to organize a coup against top Saudi leadership, and had been permanently side-lined and placed under house-arrest as a consequence. Obviously, little things like treason or coup-plotting aren't all that big a deal when everyone is everyone else's first cousin.

Or maybe Giraldi was wrong. Or maybe my memory is playing tricks on me.

Anonymous said...

"This is the Saudi royal with the African ancestry from his concubine mother."

He is their Obama.

I wonder how much of his affinity to Westerners is because of his mix race heritage and alienation from his own people?

On another note, if their Obama is backstabbing them, should we be worried about our Obama?

Anonymous said...

The average Saudi, the average *ARAB* in fact, despises Iran far more than than they despise Israel.

My J-Dar says you need to pull your head out of your ass, get out of your tiny synagogue more often and socialize more.

Anonymous said...

Your J-Dar communicates with Arabs in the United States, my J-Dar does it in the Arabian peninsula. Dumbass.

Mitch said...

True story, with only limited relevance, and apologies if I've forgotten and told it before:

I grew up in Saudi Arabia, and in 1969, my dad, who worked as a airline mechanic foreman for Saudia, heard of a prince's car (one of hundreds, no doubt) that just...stopped all the time. The prince was very unhappy, and his head mechanic needed to dump the car. My dad bought the car, a top of the line Chrysler for peanuts. He discovered the problem (a disconnected fuel line) and fixed it; we had it for five years.

It was, for 1969, an awesome car, particularly for a working class family. It had automatic windows, which were actually older and more common than AC at the time, but mostly for rich people. It had power steering, and we didn't even know what that was. And plush velvet everything (Saudis didn't like leather much).

Anyway, my dad told us that a prince had owned the car, and we were agog--would he ever be king some day? My dad laughed, and told us he was fifth in line, so pretty unlikely.

But he almost made it! His older brother just outlived him. The Sudairi boys never had much staying power. Abdulllah's genes are just stronger.

If a screenwriter had invented Bandar, we would have all scoffed in disbelief. The man's way better than fiction. How many people can you say that about?

TGGP said...

The linked Times of Israel piece notes that pro-Assad websites are trumpeting his death, but Syria's patron regime Iran only reported on PressTV that his deputy died in the attack. The Assad regime is grabbing at whatever it can to survive, while Iran may be more cautious about losing credibility from falsely reporting a death, so I'm going to say they're more reliable.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

And more than they hate Jews, they fear their Shia neighbors who want their land and have the numbers to take it.

Where is the evidence that Iraq and Iran want lebensraum, much less that millions of them are willing to wage a theater-wide war to get it?

The eastern Mediterranean already has too many people on too little land. If Iraqis and Iranians move anywhere, it will be to the US.

Mr. Anon said...

One wonders if his party-mansion had bedrooms wired for full sound and video surveillance. That might explain some of Saudi Arabia's considerable leverage with Congress and US government officials, at least in those cases where their money alone wasn't sufficient.

NOTA said...

This survey from the Pew center bears out the idea that Iran is pretty unpopular with the Arab and Muslim world. (Though I think it's much more popular with Shia Muslims in places where they're a significant minority.).

This related survey shows that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are both looked up to in much of the Muslim world, that Iran is less so, and that Israel and the US are seen as actively opposing democracy. (Weirdly, Saudi Arabia is often seen as more favorable to democracy than we are. Though our foreign policy is a lot more about backig strongmen than backing democracy, sp maybe it's not so weird.)

alonzo portfolio said...

Bandar is a spinner of webs, a dealmaker, a man who—assuming he is healthy—can...

What is this, sports talk radio? He sounds like he's shilling a trade for an outfielder.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Bandar has been one of the central figures in creating and using Al-Qaeda and other militant Islamic groups as geo-political tools for Washington since the Cold War.

unix said...

One of those 19th century British eccentrics who loved traveling in what we now call "3rd world countries" (they were especially fond of the "orient"), remarked that he almost never met a merry man in Arabia. They were a dour lot, except for the African blacks, mostly brought over as slaves. They did laugh and joke. But the Arab men, not much. There isn't really too much affinity or similarity between Arabs and black Africans. There's just proximity.

ATBOTL said...

I've known countless Arabs who were preoccupied with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Any educated Arab who speaks English harangue you about it endlessly if you let them.

What Whiskey is saying is a variation of the old tactic of denying that Antisemitism is in any way related to Jewish behavior. It's takes a lot of brazenness to deny that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about resource competition and claim it is instead motivated by irrational, causeless hatred that infests only one side.

As for the other fool, you seem confused between what dictators profess and what their citizens feel.