Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has sacked the head of the kingdom’s intelligence agency, appointing the former ambassador to the United States as the new intelligence chief.
Citing a royal decree, the official Saudi Press Agency announced on Thursday the replacement of Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz with the former envoy, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
“Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz has been deposed from his current post and appointed as the king’s advisor and special envoy,” the Saudi state TV reported.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Ali Al Ahmed, director of the Institute for [Persian] Gulf Affairs (IGA), to further discuss the issue. Below is an approximate transcript of the interview.
It seems that there is a power struggle ongoing behind the scenes between the Saudi royals. Is this moving around of the intelligence chief to now Bandar bin Sultan further proof of that?
Yes, I think it is one of the ways that you can look at this as you have the king sacking one of his closest aides and brother, Muqrin, and replacing him with a younger person who is not going to be much more effective than him.
Muqrin’s health and capacity has not been very good; he has not been able to produce a lot for the Saudi government in terms of intelligence. He is a failure in that department and his health is not doing good.
I think that he has cancer of the lungs because he is a heavy smoker and Bandar is not in better health either. His mental and physical health is not good as well. So it is a very symbolic move.
I think most of the impact of this move is going to be for public relations that Bandar is back; he is in charge; he is going to take an aggressive policy toward the region and in the files of Syria or Egypt and other countries. But I do not think that will come to produce anything that is substantial.
For a country as large as Saudi Arabia to be having this sort of a power-struggle behind the scenes must certainly be of concern to its allies such as the United States. Is the future in a sense looking unstable at this point for this wealthy nation?
I think there is a lot of instability within the framework of the ruling family. They are trying to dislodge some members of the ruling family and some of them have already shown their dissatisfaction with the current arrangement.
You see Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, one of the most prominent figures in the ruling family, despite his young age is in London being upset at the fact that he has no role to play.
That is why you saw defections on behalf of the ruling family with Sara bint Talal and other princes who are speaking out against their family and we will see more of them seeking asylum in the West very soon because of such struggle.
This is a large family that cannot carry its weights. It is too fat to carry its own weight and some of them will fall off the wagon and defect.