by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 8, Shawwal, 1431)
This theatrical palace drama started when Bandar accompanied by a number of hangers-on went to Syria last year. He traveled under an assumed name using a false passport and carrying millions of dollars in cash, arrived in Damascus
Bandar bin Sultan has not been seen in public for more than a year. This is unusual for a man with a penchant for self-glory and promotion. Until his sudden disappearance last year, Bandar was National Security Advisor to Saudi King Abdullah. So what has happened to Bandar?
Overly ambitious, Bandar badly miscalculated last year when he attempted to plot a coup against the king. He was not caught directly but by overplaying his hand, he painted himself into a corner, according to informed sources that have revealed details of Bandar’s activities to Crescent International. He thought with his close connections to the Bush family and American Zionists, he could pull it off and become king of Saudi Arabia.
This theatrical palace drama started when Bandar accompanied by a number of hangers-on went to Syria last year. He traveled under an assumed name using a false passport and carrying millions of dollars in cash, arrived in Damascus. At the airport, Syrian officials immediately recognized him — he has coarse features and stands out like a sore thumb — and notified their superiors, going all the way to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bandar was allowed to enter the country without letting on that the Syrians knew who he was. He was confronted before leaving the airport building after clearing customs where people walk through the green channel. The Syrians demanded to know why he was traveling under an assumed name carrying a false passport. Initially, Bandar insisted he was the person with the assumed name and passport but when the Syrians threatened him — the Syrians know how to squeeze their prey — Bandar broke down and spilled the beans. “He sang like a canary,” the sources told Crescent International.
Bandar was in Syria to instigate trouble for the Syrian regime as well as instigate sectarian conflict in Lebanon to undermine Hizbullah. This was part of Bandar’s plan to help his Israeli friends in return for their help in grabbing and maintaining power in the desert kingdom. In 2007, Bandar had made a secret trip to Israel to meet then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert telling him that Saudi Arabia would finance Israel’s war against Hizbullah if the latter could be destroyed. The Zionists may be war criminals but they have more sense than taking on Hizbullah twice in two years. The Zionist army was badly mauled during the July–August 2006 invasion of Lebanon despite killing more than 1,100 Lebanese civilians and destroying $7 billion worth of infrastructure.
The Syrian authorities sat on the information provided by Bandar, waiting for the Saudis to make the move. After several weeks of absence, the Saudi rulers started to inquire about Bandar’s whereabouts. It was discovered that his last known plan was to visit Syria. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was dispatched to Damascus to inquire about Bandar. He met President Bashar al-Assad and after a long exchange of pleasantries, Saud al-Faisal brought up the question of Bandar. “I am glad you asked,” said Assad to his Saudi visitor. After Assad briefed Faisal on what Bandar had admitted to the Syrians, the Saudi foreign minister requested that Bandar be handed over into his custody. The Syrians were not going to roll over so quickly; Assad refused the request prompting Saudi king Abdullah himself to make an unusual trip to Damascus last year. This was a major humiliation for Abdullah. The Saudis view the Syrians with disdain because of the latter’s close relations with Islamic Iran and their refusal to surrender to the Zionist entity as proposed by the Saudis. Syria is also host to both Palestinian Islamic movements — Hamas and Islamic Jihad — and has refused to shut down their offices despite pressure from the Saudis, Egyptians, Americans, and the so-called Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
Bandar was handed over to King Abdullah, when the latter visited Damascus, and taken back to Riyadh. There, a major storm broke out. Bandar was confronted about his plans. He confessed to plotting a coup but said he did it to “save the family.” He argued that the royal family was so hated that a popular uprising could not be averted. His coup would have bought time and saved many members of the royal family from certain death. His admissions rattled the king who in any case is not on very good terms with Bandar’s father, Sultan. The latter is defence minister. It is interesting to note that on August 31, when the Saudi regime announced pay increases for the military, defence minister Sultan was not present. It was the second increase in two years. The Saudi defence budget at $41.28 billion is 33% of the kingdom’s total budget. While the regime does not reveal the total strength of its military, it is believed to be around 175,000. This is in addition to the National Guards that are believed to be directly controlled by Abdullah and are meant to protect him in case of an uprising or a coup.
It is also interesting to note that while all this was going on, the Saudi regime announced a $60 billion arms contract with the Americans. This was music to the ears of cash-starved Americans but many informed obser-vers asked, not so softly, why the Saudis would want to buy $60 billion worth of military hardware that includes F-15 and F-16 planes when they do not even know how to ride camels properly? The simple answer is that the ruling family has to prove its loyalty to the US and Zionist masters who were upset at Bandar’s arrest since they were betting on him. True, the arms deal was not struck in a few months; it followed months of negotiations but the timing of the announcement was significant.
There are deep splits within the ruling Saudi family. These are not new; what is new is that these have spilled into the open. The split is not along age lines but along ideological lines. For instance, King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan are both in their eighties but they are on opposite sides of the political divide. Interior Minister Nayef sides with the king but other princes are opposed to him. Among the younger generation of princes — the word younger is used loosely since many of them are in their sixties — there is even more intense competition. The Faisal children — Saud, Turki and others — hate Bandar with a passion even though he is their brother-in-law. Bandar is married to the late king Faisal’s daughter and it was he who habilitated Bandar into the royal family. Bandar’s mother was a concubine of Sultan. His dark complexion and curly hair come from his mother. Sultan had no time for an ugly duckling like Bandar. King Faisal urged Sultan to accept Bandar; after all, he was his son. In order to facilitate Bandar’s integration into the Saudi clan, Faisal gave him his own daughter in marriage but gratitude is not one of Bandar’s strongest characteristics. He started to bite the hand that fed him.
Bandar assumed that the links he cultivated with the Bush family and the Zionists in the US during his long stint as ambassador to Washington would act as his insurance policy. The ruling Saudi family would not dare put its hand on him. This is where he seems to have miscalculated landing him under house arrest. While we are unlikely to witness the public beheading of Bandar in Riyadh despite his treasonous act (this fate is reserved for poor Pakistani or Bangladeshi workers accused of petty crimes), he is likely to cool his heels in a villa for a long time.
What the Bandar saga reveals is the rottenness at the core of the Saudi dynasty. At heart, they remain beduins — with a penchant for intrigue, backstabbing and robbery. After all, stealing runs in their blood. Abdul Aziz ibn Saud was a highwayman who robbed pilgrims’ caravans until the British discovered his “talents” and, therefore, his usefulness against the Ottoman Khilafah. Abdul Aziz was instrumental in destroying the Khilafah, the last organic link with the Islamic State established by none other than the noble Messenger (pbuh) himself in Madinah 1,400 years ago. For this treachery alone, the entire House of Saud should be executed because they are guilty of the greatest treason against Islam.