SAUDI Ambassador to the US, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, abruptly resigned from his post this week and flew out of Washington on Monday, according to this article in today's Washington Post.
The article says that he told embassy staff that he wanted to spend more time with his family, and that his announcement had left them shocked. Written by veteran Middle East reporter Robin Wright, the article also speculates that perhaps Prince Turki is being positioned to take over the job his brother, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, holds, which is that of foreign minister.
I doubt that. Instead, I think Prince Turki has taken the fall for the article that his protege Nawaf Obaid printed in the Washington Post last week which claimed Saudi Arabia was ready to step in and provide monetary, military and political support to Iraq's besieged Sunni minority if the US pulled out of Iraq. This plan was denied by Saudi Arabia the next day and Obaid was then fired from his post as consultant to Turki.
I don't think that Obaid would have ever written that Post piece without the explicit green light from Turki. I think they were just testing the waters to see what the public and Iraqi reaction would be. Iraqi Prime Minsiter Nur Al-Malki immediately denounced the idea, saying that the Kingdom supported a united Iraq, and by implication would not allow the country to be dismembered into Sunni, Shia and Kurd areas.
It's too bad that such an active ambassador is leaving Washington after only 15 months on the job. Many people in the US capital had noted what a difference Turki was compared to his predecessor Prince Bandar. Time will tell what is really going on in Riyadh. Stay tuned for updates.