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Bickering in House of Saud on How to Deal with Iran

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, left, with National Security Adviser Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, and former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington.

READ my debut piece of reporting for the New York Times today in Hassan Fattah’s article entitled: “Bickering Saudis Struggle for an Answer to Iran’s Rising Influence in the Middle East.”

The article also appeared in a slightly longer version in the International Herald Tribune under the headline “Talk in Saudi Arabia Turns to ‘Iranian Threat'”. My tagline is at the end of the NYT article.

We report the split in the Saudi royal family between those who favor a more aggressive confrontation with Iran over its influence in Iraq, led by former Saudi Ambasador to the US and now National Security Adviser Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, and those who prefer a more diplomatic approach of talking, led by King Abdullah and the Al-Faisal wing of the royal family:

A member of the royal family with knowledge of the discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the fight is between those like Bandar, who has sought to closely back the Bush administration as it seeks a toughened policy on Iran, and those like Turki who have sought to avoid taking clear sides in the sectarian conflict and believe the only solution to the problem is in negotiating with the Iranians.

“Neither King Abdullah nor the Faisals are American puppets,” said the royal of the family that includes Turki and Saud. “Prince Turki’s abrupt resignation was in fact to return to Saudi, to be face to face with Bandar and Abdullah.”

Steve Clemons, who broke the story about the appointment of Saudi spinmaster Adel Al-Jubair as the Kingdom’s next ambassador to the US on Wednesday, says that the Washington Post’s Robin Wright has a front page story also about the royal split but that it’s been held over for a day. It seems like they are working in tandem. Just remember you first read about this split here and in the New York Times!