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Monday, September 28

A Saudi prince greatly underestimates Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin









[...]

September 10, 2013

On August 2, 2013, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan [then Director General of Saudi Intelligence Agency] had an unprecedented meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin.

Their meeting covered a host of issues ranging from future energy economy to the situation in Egypt to what to do about Syria.

Throughout, Bandar made a huge mistake – believing that Putin was just like the successive US senior officials Bandar has dealt with in the past – namely, that like the Americans, Putin would also be easy to bribe with flattery, weapons acquisition, and oil-related cash.

Putin was not.

Of significance to the issue of the chemical strike in Damascus was the exchange between Bandar and Putin regarding the future of Bashar al-Assad. Bandar wanted Putin to support the toppling of the Assad Administration and its replacement with a Saudi-sponsored opposition administration. Bandar promised that Russia’s interests in Syria would be preserved by the proposed Saudi-sponsored post-Assad government.

In this context Bandar sought to both allay Putin’s concerns regarding jihadist terrorism and to deliver a veiled threat.

“As an example,” Bandar stated, “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move [also] in the direction of the Syrian territory without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

Putin responded quietly. “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Bandar again discussed the Syrian issue at length. He stressed that as far as Riyadh was concerned, there was no future for the Assad Administration.

“The Syrian regime is finished as far as we and the majority of the Syrian people are concerned,” Bandar said, and they, the Syrian people, “will not allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain at the helm.”

Putin responded that Moscow’s “stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters.”

Again, Bandar resorted to threats. He warned Putin that their dispute over the future of Syria led him, Bandar, to conclude that “there is no escape from the [US-led] military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate”. Bandar added that Riyadh saw no future for the negotiating process.

Bandar expected such a military intervention to soon commence.

Did he have any foreknowledge of a provocation to come? Significantly, Bandar insisted throughout his visit to Moscow that his initiative and message were coordinated with the highest authorities in Obama’s Washington.

“I have spoken with the Americans before the visit, and they pledged to commit to any understandings that we may reach, especially if we agree on the approach to the Syrian issue,” Bandar assured Putin.


[...]


October 23, 2013

Upset at President Barack Obama's policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.

Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a 'major shift' in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria's civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

[...]

Saudi anger boiled over after Washington refrained from military strikes in response to a poison gas attack in Damascus in August when Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons arsenal.

[...]

Representative Chris Van Hollen, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives' Democratic leadership, told Reuters' Washington Summit on Tuesday that the Saudi moves were intended to pressure Obama to take action in Syria.

'We know their game. They're trying to send a signal that we should all get involved militarily in Syria, and I think that would be a big mistake to get in the middle of the Syrian civil war,' Van Hollen said.

'And the Saudis should start by stopping their funding of the al Qaeda-related groups in Syria.

[...]

Prince Bandar bin Sultan (Wikipedia)

In the summer of 2013, after the U.S., UK and French officials accused Syria's Assad regime of using chemical weapons against its opponents, Syria, Russia and Iran, countered with assertions that the chemical weapons had actually been deployed by the Syrian rebels themselves in a "false flag" attack designed to bring international condemnation down on the Syrian government.

Prince Bandar became one focus of these accusations, in particular according to the findings of American news organisation Mint Press News reports of the Ghouta residents;[66]

Iranian media also asserted that Bandar was the source of these alleged weapons transfers.[67]

A court affidavit filed on 3 February 2015 claims that Zacarias Moussaoui served as a courier between Osama bin Laden and Turki bin Faisal Al Saud in the late 1990s, and that Turki introduced Moussaoui to Bandar.[68] The Saudi government continues to deny any involvement in the 9/11 plot, and claims there is no evidence to support Moussaoui's allegations in spite of numerous intense investigations previously, noting that Moussaoui's own lawyers presented evidence of his mental incompetence during his trial.[68]

Removed as head of Intelligence Service

On 15 April 2014 Prince Bandar bin Sultan was removed from his position "at his own request" according to the announcement in the Saudi state media.[60][61] he remained as Secretary General of the National Security Council until it was abolished in January 2015.

Zacarias Moussaoui's Mental State

"Wicked But Not Schizophrenic"


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