02 August, 2012

Where is Prince Bandar?

English: President George W. Bush meets with S...
English: President George W. Bush meets with Saudi Arabian Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here's what we know.  On July 18th a bombing in Damascus killed several senior officials in Syria, including the Minister of Defense and a brother-in-law of President al-Assad.  On July 19th, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, long associate of the Bush family, former ambassador to the US, famous for his role in getting Saudis out of the US in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and in relative eclipse the past few years, was appointed President of General Intelligence for the government of Saudi Arabia.  On July 22nd a bomb detonated in the headquarters of Saudi intelligence, killing the deputy Chief of Intelligence.

There are no reports of Prince Bandar being seen since the explosion.

There are no reports indicating that he was killed or wounded.

There are no statements from the Saudis or the White House refuting rumors of his death.

There are no reports on his location or status, period.

Bandar bin Sultan, Secretary-General of the Na...
Bandar bin Sultan, Secretary-General of the National Security Council of Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now we get into speculation.  It's not like there aren't a number of people who would like to plant a bomb in Saudi intelligence HQ.  The coincidence with the Syrian operation is probably, in fact, a coincidence.  Besides, they have enough going on at home to stretch their capabilities past the point where they could do something like this (especially on such short notice).  If the bomb could be tied to Iran it would be an act of war, so even if there are indirect connections it's unlikely we'll find anything substantial.  Besides, it's probably not in Iran's interests to take that kind of risk, and it would take time to set up.  There have been successful attacks on Saudi intelligence in the past, but these have usually been attributed to internal dissidents, with general support from the Syrians and/or Iranians.

Yet another possibility:  perhaps factions of the Saudi elite are in conflict with one another. It wouldn't be the first time, although usually without open violence.  At the very least, an internal opponent to Bandar--a man who has made some enemies--could have looked the other way, leaving the door open to an attack by one of several groups. 

The first task, of course, is to confirm what has happened. 

How odd, though, that so little has been made of this in the press. Bandar was/is a "rock star" in the Saudi establishment with long and substantial ties to the US. The silence is almost deafening.

There's nothing like the politics of the Middle East to lend itself to conspiratorial thinking.  The fact is, however, there's still a lot that we simply don't know.

For an excellent overview, see NightWatch 20120801 - KGS.

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