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December 12, 2006


Wow. Talk about getting under the story. How ironic is it that Bush called Kerry a waffler? This guy is like a headless chicken - Running in circles with blood spirting out. Does he think avoiding any position will prevent waffling? Seems so.

I'd say your baseless speculation is about on the mark. Even the Sauds have had it with these jackholes.

I think "What would happen if, for a second time, BushCo discovered its closest ally was also one of its biggest enemies?" might be better stated as "What would happen if, for a second time, BushCo discovered its closest ally was also one of America's biggest enemies?" Not that I think those attacks aren't bad for the Bush Administration, but they are in fact attacks on our national forces, not on the administration itself.

Also, isn't it interesting how little we hear about our good friends the Saudis are funding "the terrorists" in Iraq, when wingnuts can't make it through a paragraph about Iraq without ranting about Saddam "supporting terrorism" because he sent money to families of suicide bombers?

Perhaps, having told Dick what to do about Iraq, and been thoroughly ignored, made the Saudis decide to withdraw their Ambassador?

Like this, but different: perhaps, having told El-Faisal what to tell the Americans, and then having to summon Cheney directly because the message evidently wasn't getting through with the proper clarity or emphasis, they decided not to withdraw their Ambassador as a diplomatic protest, but rather decided to replace their incompetent foreign minister with someone intimately familiar with all the dark history of Saudi-US relations and intelligence cooperation?
(Here's to speculation. . .)

Dave RS


But the two Saudis who know that cooperation best are Turki (who was head of intelligence during the whole Afghanistan cooperation with the US) and Bandar (who was once described as having special suitcases full of the records of such ops).

This commentary is over the top. Turki's recent advisor Obaid was fired right after stupid comments on Iraq. Turki al-Faisal is angling for the Foreign Minister position after his brother Saud al-Faisal presumably told Turki he was about to resign.

While Turki made a colossal error in judgment back when he talked to and funded Usama bL in the '80s and early '90s, he himself was fired as Intell Chief a few days before 9/11, but has come back to serve honorably and with skill in both the UK and the US.

Come to think of it, Clinton made a colossal error in judgment when he allowed UbL out of Sudan instead of taking him over and sequestering him. UbL went to Afghanistan instead of Guantanamo, and thousands of Americans are dead. Good work, Billy Jeff.

What came to my mind was the news reports saying that the Saudi King had said the middle east was ready to explode, for example:


Perhaps because Turki understands the thinking and has worked with the players in DC and Europe (he was Ambassador to London as well) better that most anyone in Saudi Arabia (what is Bandar doing these days?), as well as being a long time intelligence chief, and as the upcoming period is expected to be particularly dicey (what with the changes in Congress, the Iraq report repercussions, balancing Iranian schemes in Iraq, countering pressures within Saudi Arabia and its neighbors due to the fighting in Iraq, etc...) there were some good reasons to bring him home. Hopefully the reasoning is to reduce tensions in the area rather than to drive them.


to be clear, my speculation is that Turki will be the next foreign minister.

Turki may have funded bin Laden during the Afghan war but the US is hardly in a position to blame him for that, as the whole mujahedeen support apparatus was a Saudi/ISI/CIA joint venture (with lots of loose ends to be sure, but none of those three players can disclaim responsibility for what emerged out of that pipeline)


FWIW, Turki is one of the people named in the 9/11 families lawsuits against the Saudis--for actions extending late into the 1990s. And I might add, I did say, "o reason to think Prince Turki is involved..."

The point is, there is a whole lot of uncertainty with our relationship with Saudi Arabia right now. To ignore the possibility that that uncertainty contributes to this move--particularly given the sudden resignation--would be naive.

Dave RS

Ah, I see your point.

I think Turki is going to have plenty to keep him busy in Saudi Arabia. At some point, some Dem (although unfortunately not many and not leadreship) with some kind of subpeona power will push on info regarding the funding that has been on the periphery of so many recent stories.

Add to that - the clerics in Saudi Arabia are up in arms.


More than 30 prominent Islamic clerics from Saudi Arabia on Monday called on Sunni Muslims around the Middle East to support their brethren in Iraq against Shiites and praised the insurgency.

The clerics said jihad, or holy war, "is one of the most important tenets of religion, and what has been taken by force can only be regained by force."

Never forget that the stability of the Royal Family in SA is highly dependent on keeping the peace with the clerics on one hand, and the west on the other hand. As was pointed out in a great NYT op piece today, we here tend to forget how much the US bases in SA grate on Muslims in that country - we shouldn't. Add in some bad health and too many young people with no jobs and no future -- it's not pretty.

I'd say he has a few things he'll need to attend to when he gets back.

And while this is a bit OT and relates more to some of the observations Feingold keeps trying to force into the public theater, Somalia - another destination for Saudi funds and cleric sentiment - is about to explode.


I think it is internal Saudi (and family) politics. We can't make the mistake most other Americans make of thinking it is always about us. Turki probably sees a chance to move up soon.

Also, it would not surprise me for ME leaders, especially Sunnis, to be very nervous about the "unleash the Shia" option, one of the more stupid ideas to come out of Cheney's shop. There are many more Sunni than Shia, and although the Shia cunningly ended up living where much of the oil is, the Sunnis even more cunningly ended up ruling most places that have oil. I suppose the idea is that if Moqtada al-Sadr and his army can be split off and power shifted from Dawa to SCIRI, the Sunnis would be more likely to support the government? How likely is that? And why is it again we want SCIRI, who are closer to Iran? Just because Moqtada is scarier? I dunno.

Then again, Turki could have been intercepted talking to the ghost of Princess Diana, for all I know.

laura rosen has Chris Nelson on Turki/Bandar dispute

Here's part of the Nelson Report via Laura Rozen:

Specifically, we are told that Bandar, now the King’s national security advisor, seems to have become jealous of Amb. Turki’s increasingly rave reviews from Washington players who appreciated his frank talk and no-nonsense demeanor.

“Without question, he was the most candid, most valued Saudi official in DC ever, he won constant praise for always telling the truth,” this source continues. “Bandar spent 22 years hear and the contrast was obvious.”

Interesting to see this source describe "Bandar Bush"'s behavior as quintessentially Bushian in its petulance.

One other thing about Nelson (and something I was wondering about before) is whether there was a connection between Clemons' source from earlier this week--advocating the $40 oil--and this whole spat. Look at the way the Nelson wanders off into just that area.

On Saudi policy, an observer reminds us that a couple of weeks ago, a Saudi operative raised the possibility of cutting the price of oil as a way to counter Iran’s increasing belligerency. This expert today notes, “this is really the only card the two of us [the US and Saudi Arabia] have to play against Iran.”

“But just imagine”, this expert continues, “if they did this for a concerted period of time, and the world price got back down to say $60/bbl, Amadinejad would be toast, and Putin would be a hell of a lot less cocky!”

I don't know what it's doing there. But it is there.

[mutters to self] What the devil did those goofs think replacing Bandar Bush with Turki was about, in the first place? I think that was meant to be like a blast from Gabriel's horn. So what's this?

How clever have we been, did we go into Iraq to weaken Sunni Islam (and thus Al Qaeda)? On the other hand, is Iran really nurturing Al Qaeda? When I read this a few weeks ago, I think Waleed Phares pushed this idea (maybe it was Fareed Zacharia) my support for crazy Bush Administration notions rose considerably.

``Turki may have funded bin Laden during the Afghan war but the US is hardly in a position to blame him for that, as the whole mujahedeen support apparatus was a Saudi/ISI/CIA joint venture (with lots of loose ends to be sure, but none of those three players can disclaim responsibility for what emerged out of that pipeline).''

Yes indeed, and in the interests of apparent expediency, a lot of that support went to the vilest and most fanatical of the jihadis, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. There were liberal to left nationalists, as well as various traditionalists (tribal) who one could have given arms and support, but that would probably not have served as well the goal at hand, which was to undermine the USSR thru' not only causing a painful defeat for the Red Army in Afghanistan, but also to try to detach the Central Asian republics from the rest of the USSR. (So also playing the British role in the ``great game'' of trying to dominate Central Asia to the exclusion of the Russians and the Chinese.) Since the Central Asian republics were Muslim, then the competing loyalty would be Islam, so the Jihadis looked like a good bet.

And not only did one get blowback in the form of Osama bin Laden et al, but also Hekmatyar, whose organization is now fighting the Afghan government the US supports. I read some where that some of the ``Taliban'' who NATO troops are battling in southern Afghanistan are actually Hekmatyar's folks. At the time---in the 1980's---it might have looked reasonable to support those who appeared to be the most fanatical fighters, on the grounds that they would be the most effective against the Red Army forces, but even at the time, one ought to have been wondering where these folks sympathies ultimately lay.

Also it isn't clear that either the ISI or some of the house of Saud who supported the mujahaddin are really upset at the emergence of the Taliban &c. They have no commitment to European style liberal modernism (nor do the more crazy among the new Christian right in the US, for that matter). (There are, after all, a variety of radical Islamists in Pakistan, and in particular in the Army and the ISI.)

``How clever have we been, did we go into Iraq to weaken Sunni Islam (and thus Al Qaeda)?''

Um... Did Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, et all, have any idea that there even was a potential for Sunni vs. Shia strife in Iraq?

``On the other hand, is Iran really nurturing Al Qaeda?''

This seems wildly unlikely. For a time, it seemed, al Quaeda tried to cultivate ties with Shi'a groups, or at least not to cultivate antagonisms, since the goal was to unite the whole ulamma in a return to the Caliphate, was it not? But it seems that when pushed, bin Laden and al Zawahiri were willing to support the late, unlamented abu Musad al Zarqawi, even tho' he was trying to create a Sunni vs. Shi'a war in Iraq. Their Wahhabism and Salafism got the better of them, despite their realization that they ought to be working with groups like Lebanese Hezbollah if they could. So it would seem not in the interest of Iran to back al-Qaeda, esp. when their hopes for influence in Iraq rest with the DAMA and the SCIRI parties and militias.

when their hopes for influence in Iraq rest with the DAMA and the SCIRI parties and militias

as do ours, apparently.

I'm inclined to agree with Mimikatz above. It's not always about us.

Here is what Steve Clemons had to say earlier today:

Sources report that the Ambassador's decision has come after a long bout of battles with anti-reformers in the Saudi government. Turki, according to one source, believes that these are critical times and that the kind of intrigue that others in Saudi political circles want to play is a waste of his time, energy, and beneath him.
I might add that Steve has been in Dubai very recently and talking to many of the Arab power brokers.

``There are many more Sunni than Shia, and although the Shia cunningly ended up living where much of the oil is, the Sunnis even more cunningly ended up ruling most places that have oil.''

But that rule was not forever, yes? It's already gone, and unlikely to return anytime soon, in Basra province. And tho' the Kurds are Sunni's, their interests and those of the Sunni rulers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf are hardly as one. (And if you assume that Saddam Hussein and the other leading members of his government were Sunni rulers---which they really were not---the interests of the Iraqi Kurds and those of the Sunni Arabs of Iraq were in direct and violent conflict.) So most of Iraq's oil regions are not ruled by Sunnis anymore.

The studity, from the point of view of Cheney et al, would perhaps be that in not supporting the Sunni rulers one would work to the advantage of Tehran, assuming that the powers that be in Iran are interested in trying to forge a Shi'a confederacy including Basra province and Eastern Saudi Arabia (this would give them control of 40% plus of the world's proven oil reserves). And the powers that be in Iran, of course, still call the US, ``the great Satan''.

Then again, there are cross-cutting loyalties here. Those who live in those oil regions are all Arabs, including the majority of those who live in the oil producing region of Iran. Contrarywise, much of the rest of Iran, including those who live in the central core, viz. Tehran and environs are Persians, that is Indo-Europeans, speaking an Indo-European language (Farsi). [The NE and NW of Iran, on the other hand, are Azeri and Kurdish. I don't know what the population proportions are.] Might not the Arabs of Iran's oil producing area throw in their lot with the folks in Basra and eastern Saudi Arabia, and break off from Iran? The ties of religion may not be stronger than than those of tribe or nationality. After all, most of the Shi'a Iraqis who fought in the Iran-Iraq war fought for the Iraq Army, not for the Iranian army. And the Ba'athist wing of the anti-occupation forces in central Iraq are, of course, not Sunni Islamists at all, but rather modernizing pan-Arab nationalists (in a pinch, Iraqi nationalists :-) And not all of them were Muslims, either: Tariq Aziz is a Christian, and he was not the only such in the Ba'athist movement. Michel A'flack, the founder of the Iraqi Ba'ath party was from a Christian family.

In a fluid situation, with various possible outcomes, it's kind of hard to predict what sort of lasting coalitions can be put together, and to judge then who one ought to support. (And then there is the question of what is in the interest of the US public vs. what is in the interest of the US elite, and which faction thereof at that, with Cheney being a card-carrying member of one of those factions.)

Also, there is that group which has not been heard from yet: viz., those who, in the traditional language, ``have no country and have nothing to lose but their chains''. In particular, in Iraq, the oil field, pipeline, and refinery workers. They have no militia as such, so aren't a player as such, at least in the eyes of those engaged in the armed struggle, on whatever side in Iraq. So they might not be heard from for rather a while. But they do have a union, and not a weak one either, it seems. The question would be, I think, whether a strike could be broken by the militias if the latter were ordered to do so by their leaders and the leaders of their parties. If not, then the oil workers union is a player after all, and they may be heard from in the not so distant future.

Oops, that's ``The stupidity, from the point of view of Cheney et al'' not ``The studity, from the point of view of Cheney et al''. Too lazy to run this stuff thru' a spell checker. Sorry about that.

Gazing at Turki, we all seem to be in the trance of an enigma.

He's either a sinister figure, tied in with al-Qaeda and other assorted anti-American Jihadists, as you allude to initially above, or else he's the public advocate of peaceful reconciliation and a grand regional accomodator between the Saudis, Iran, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Lebanon, as that masterful SF Chron profile by Jon Curiel seems to suggest, ever so guardedly.

Can he be both, or is he neither? I think Curiel suggest that what we see is what Turki wants us to see:

"Turki is an absolutely fabulous diplomat -- he's able to tell you what you want to hear but put his little spin on it so you'll change your mind."

"In person, Turki is the antithesis of Bandar. Where Bandar was brash, Turki is coolheaded. Where Bandar relished being the center of attention, Turki seems to go there as needed. In fact, for as long as Bandar was Saudi Arabia's high-profile ambassador in Washington, Turki was the country's behind-the-scenes foreign intelligence chief -- someone who, mostly out of public view, oversaw Riyadh's security dealings with the United States, France, Afghanistan and other countries.

"Soft-spoken (at least compared with Bandar) and avuncular, Turki, 61, has a reputation for making visitors feel at ease despite his aristocratic title and upbringing. Called his royal highness by Saudis and visitors who follow strict protocol, Turki is the son of the late Saudi King Faisal. Turki, says Seznec, could one day be king himself."

He is the perfect embodiment of the country he may lead. Perfectly ambivalent about us, and able to play both sides in an internal civil that has been pulling apart the House of Saud, and its duplex, the House of Bush, so that they're both at the point of collapse.

Your essay here challenges all my facile and too quick assumptions, and forces me to defend them. I greatly admire your work, Ms. Wheeler.

Gave your link at my DKos post a rec. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/12/12/124824/53 Looking forward to seeing your book, soon.

- Mark G. Levey


The admiration is mutual, thanks.

I really don't think we KNOW what's going on--not least, because I'm still convinced we don't KNOW what went on when Bandar went home. But I do know things are in flux--and have the potential to go very very badly.

we may not KNOW what's going on, but the suggestion that al-Turki may be "tied in with Al Qaeda" is a little hysterical.

I think the news last night that Saudi is threatening the U.S with increased oil prices and alliances with the Sunni's suggests to me, that we have been taking orders from the Saudi's by going into Iraq in the first place. They wanted us there, they had Bush's ear, Bush's croneys would makes lots of money, and we could "push democracy!!". I think we were "played" or Bush was "played" by Saudi.

Our dependence on oil is the problem. Plain and simple. We must do something about this problem so that our well being is not dependent upon our relationships in the middle east. It is clearly problematic and very muddy when we start to get involved with all the complexities in that region.

Today's NYTimes suggests a power struggle between Turki and Bandar to be the next foreign minister. The current one is Turki's brother and he and his wife are both ill, and he wants to resign. But Bandar is national security adviser and wants to move up too. It also contains the nugget that Turki fired the guy who wrote the op-ed about the Saudis crashing the price of oil to $40, even though this reflects Saudi gov't feelings.

Josh Marshall has some more enlightenment about why the support for "unleashing the Shia." Back in the day when the neocons would talk to Marshall, they evidently believed that they would go into Iraq and create a "model secular Shia" government that would be friendly to us, and Iran would see what a good deal it was and so dump the mullahs and throw in with us as well, and then we could split off the Shia in the Saudi oil fields in another friendly Shia state and finally tell the Saudis to go f* themselves. He thinks these people may still feel that way. Not Rummy and Cheney, certainly, who I think just wanted their hands on the oil production to make the US safe, but the hard-core neocons. But it is really hard to analyze twisted minds.

Dave RS

I, for one, am saying that there are new allegations of Saudi/AQ involvement. There is a lot of evidence that Prince Turki was involved in such involvement in the past--as I said, until late in the 1990s.

But I think it just as likely that other Saudis are embracing such relations now, with a move toward more actively funding the Sunnis in Iraq even if it means funding Al Qaeda. That is just as likely to affect Turki's position here as Turki's own involvement would, particularly if he were opposed and such an approach was becoming semi-official policy on the part of Saudi Arabia.

My first post and I've been an avid reader since I discovered "Sweet Judy Blew Lies". Katie, isn't the problem a little more complicated than our well-being dependent on mid east relationships. As emptywheel has suggested here in past posts, with the dollar being the preferred reserve of nations trading in oil, how much time is there for the US to become a world leader in producing alternative energies so that a potential threat of Iran or China trading in, say euros, doesn't completely sink our economy? The answer seems pretty grim to me.


Leveymg beat me to the punch, and probably means more to you given he’s at DKos, but let me add my congratulations, plus a few more strands to this thread.

First, to what this thread says about blogging.

You couldn’t expect applause merely for pulling 1001 Arabian Nights off the shelf. It’s not like everyone from Byzantine Emperor Paleologos to Pope Benedict didn’t realize that Middle East mazes are a sure fire hit since before Gutenberg downloaded the first font (Okay, maybe the pope missed it.)

But you started earning your way here by deciding to open this show with “Turki on the Bye-Bye”. That’s a tune which holds as many variations as the roads to Mecca, only in reverse.

And where I think you pile up standing O’s – no, curtain calls - is your prescience. Only a bloggenfuhrer (sorry, I’m working on an umlaut-free keyboard) at the peak of her game could envision a thread which not only captures the Essence of Blog, with that whole ‘agitate-rant-opinionate-brilliance shoulder to shoulder with B.S.-learn together’ thing, but ends up with you looking like the B’sphere’s Penn & Teller, a magician who says “This isn’t magic, it’s a trick”, invites us all to check our credulity on the way in, shows us how the trick works, TELLS US we’ve been tricked - and we’re ever more impressed. It’s been written before, but we’re not worthy …

Now, as I imagine myself approximately as human as most who dock hear, here’s a little more to stuff back into the webtubes.

Ordinarily I’d be content just to concede that Steve Clemons got it right with his usual healthy beltline of secret sauce - big brother Saud has a hurtin’ back; cousin Bandar has hurt feelings; uncle Abd’s not getting any younger – because, after all, that’s Turki his own self Steve has himself pictured as pressing flesh with.

But like most here, I don’t think this Turki is just some officers’ club sandwich with colonel chicken fried in 21 herbs and spices. I think what we have is the big bird - and we all know how long those things take to cook.

Here’s my speculation: Conceding all due plausibility to the opening bid from Washington Note, someone who has lived life as Turki al-Faisal ibn Saud has lived it, privileged, monied, bright, worldly, cool-headed, resourceful, fearless, intentional, diplomatic, the work, makes me think, as Clemenza put it in that classic which made all of us gumbas, Coppola’s The Godfather, it appears that the denizens of the House of Saud have gone to the mattresses.

Firing the consultant Otieb lent cover, and versatile cover at that: Get your point out, but in way that gives you deniability (Never send a Scooter on a black op when you have a Saudi George Smiley handy.), leaving us mystified as to where the truth might be on the continuum between the extremes of May God Have Mercy On Him He’s Such A Liar, and He’s Such A Blabbermouth But Thank God He’s Our Blabbermouth (Richard Armitage fills the role in Plameout), merely by firing his ass – and just about the time when Otieb was going to receive a pink slip from his ambassador-advice business anyway. Do you think all this might get Otieb on to Hardball?

It might be worthwhile to remember that Bandar was the Saudi’s Man in American Havana at the time when King Abdullah didn’t know what a clot is Bush. One of the books by the recently unfashionable Tom Friedman described when King Ab wrote Bush a lengthy letter explaining his Abdullah Plan in full frontal nudity, a roadmap so clear a moron could follow it - and Big C never let it pass him. A pity, or it would be a pity if the rumours of Dubya being such a reader were true. (He reminds me of those stamps one sees on letters from busy doctors and lawyers – like “Dictated But Not Understood”). Then when Bandar told the King that despite all the time Bandar spent scarfing down natchos with Dub, the message wasn’t getting through, King Ab drovered the royal caravan clear across the Atlantic just to meet Old Enabled by Turdblossom himself at El Rancho Crawford.

My impression is that, until Turki passed on to King Ab the early notice to him on what us plebes learned yesterday, that The Decider has decided to delay his letting us in on What I’ll Do Next To … er, In Iraq, King Ab figured that since he had spent some Grade A quality time with good old George’s boy, hey, may be even formed a BOND, he thought he had, or as I fear, HOPED he had, gotten through to that mule-headed white knuckle recovering addict we all call the current President of the US of A.

My impression is that King Ab put too much into Bush’s visit to the UN when he asked Arab folks to leave Israel some breathing room so he could help build Palestine. That sounded just enough like some components critical to the Abdullah Plan that it gave King Ab false hope – as in the kind of hope best captured by Robin Williams in his routine on cavemen Scots inventing golf.

Turki, on the other hand, had the advantage over Uncle Ab. He went to school in the US (The Curiel piece has him “graduated” from Georgetown, but Lawrence Wright’s lyrical Looming Tower paints a flattering portrait of Turki, replete with Turki’s own anecdotal spin, and even that shows he dropped out of two US universities; wonder who he pulls for come March Madness?), he’s been on the ground in Washington for over a year and back and forth from London for almost a decade, he speaks impeccable English, and he’s spent a lot of time studying and working with (or on, or over) a wide variety of back-stabbing evasive moronic criminal types.

All of which brings me to think over the past week Turki has been reporting to Abdullah that he didn’t think there is any reason to expect the US to honor what Abdullah took as, and really just hoped was, a commitment to the Abdullah plan – and Turki had the kind of credibility necessary to sell this message to the King that Bandar lacked.

Being oh-so-aware of the likelihood of some miscommunication between the King and Bush II, Turki spent as much time as they could stand listening to his dulcet tones talking to that group with the inbred political DNA, the Iraq Study Group. After all that, Turki had a right to figure that the ISG at least, which is composed of not just some of his old buddies, but his family consigliore for crying out loud, got the picture. Weeks dragged by, with all kinds of input from everyone and his dog tag (Among which the best has to be the Daily Show’s turn on Tom Ricks’ “go big, go long, go home” take on the Pentagon review – Go Big, Go Long, Go F**k Yourself.), but finally the ISG issued its report, replete with all which King Abdullah could reasonably expect, with a big release party to boot.

And what does Bush II do do? He … procrastinates.

Look, I realize a lot of folks grant Condi Rice a conditional reprieve from neocon vulcanhood by labeling her a “realist”, but if there was ever a realist in this fiasco, it’s Turki.

The ambassador of ANY country who leaves the way Turki did is basic diplomat for this: “We told you, and we told you again, and then we came to your house to make it plain, and then we sent over our top guy to make sure you got it, and then he told you not to cross that line or else, and now you’ve crossed that line, so this is “Or else” time. We’re taking our best guy off the case and putting him where he can at least be of some use, and as he said, he ain’t comin’ back”.

Wright’s Looming Tower has a cool passage on Prince Turki’s pivotal contribution to the House of Saud’s recovering the Grand Mosque from the Mad Mini Mahdi in 1979, starting in 1984. Turki’s older brother Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud also is US educated, at Princeton, but his degree is in economics. Until recently, Saudi foreign affairs equaled oil. But just like in 1979, when the shooting starts, if I’m King Abdullah, if I’m a member of the House of Saud, I’d much rather have a cool cat like Turki covering my sore back.

P.S. Though it’s true Turki was among those named in the US lawsuits against the House of Saud by 9/11 victims’ families, I don’t see much to that. And though I wouldn’t want to be seen subscribing to some things Dave RS has been writing here and on Clemon’s blog, I think his point about Turki’s enmity towards al-Qaeda is definitively correct.

- LabDancer

There is a lot of evidence that Prince Turki was involved [with AQ] in the past . . . until late in the 1990s.

My only point is that he was involved (through possibly direct contact with OBL and definitely in meetings with the Taliban concerning OBL's status/fate) in his capacity as the Saudi intelligence director and in the context of Saudi/ISI/CIA support of Islamist elements during and after the Afghan war, that is to say as an ally and sometime proxy of the United States, to the extent the idea of an ally has any coherence in these tangled circumstances. I think we and most of the posters here are working from a similar understanding of the underlying background.

Turki "involvement" with AQ in this context, though it may be seen as troubling depending on the perspective one brings to bear on the whole grand scheme, I don't think is properly represented as sinister in this context. I may be wrong, but I haven't seen anything to convince me otherwise.

it just as likely that other Saudis are embracing such relations now, with a move toward more actively funding the Sunnis in Iraq even if it means funding Al Qaeda

I agree that Saudi citizens have been and will continue to support and fund salafist Islamic radical groups, including Islamists with connections to AQ, and including such groups in Iraq.

I posit that this is parallel to what was happening under similar circumstances in the Afghan war and is not the same thing as Saudi intelligence participating in a joint venture with the CIA against the USSR, which drew in and nurtured salafist fighters who would become the Al Qaeda we know today.

That is just as likely to affect Turki's position here as Turki's own involvement would, particularly if he were opposed and such an approach which was becoming semi-official policy on the part of Saudi Arabia

I agree. But I think that it's crucial to understand that we are the ones who have changed, in our level of concern about Saudi official and non-official support for Islamic radical movements in the ME and around the world, rather than the Saudis.

In that regard (and keeping in mind the deeper point that the whole notion of an alliance between the US and KSA is fraught with inherent conflicts) I think we should be cautious before rejecting someone like al-Turki as an advantageous co-operator, if not a partner, especially when the alternatives are people like Bandar. Simply put, Turki may be the best Saudi we're going to get.


I think we basically agree on much of this, yet you're ascribing this to me:

I think we should be cautious before rejecting someone like al-Turki as an advantageous co-operator, if not a partner, especially when the alternatives are people like Bandar. Simply put, Turki may be the best Saudi we're going to get.

I wasn't rejecting him. Which is not to say that someone isn't rejecting him--though I think it more likely that that someone is in Saudi Arabia.

Though I would say that--if you click through to the 9/11 families' suit--there is evidence Turki was involved past 1996, until 1998, two years past the Al Qaeda "war" on the US. Again, that still is within what had been acceptable for a Saudi to be involved with OBL. But that's part of the problem with our relationship with SA, no?

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