Monday, August 26, 2013

In Jordan, "mini-Bandar"

"... A senior U.S. intelligence official called the Saudis "indispensable partners on Syria" and said their efforts influenced American thinking. "No one wants to do anything alone," the official said in explaining why the partnership expanded.
The Saudi goal was to get the U.S. to back a program to arm and train rebels out of a planned base in Jordan. Then-CIA chief David Petraeus was an early backer of the idea, said Arab and U.S. officials, and helped clinch Jordanian military support for the base. Gen. Petraeus declined to comment.
Prince Bandar met with the uneasy Jordanians about such a base. His meetings in Amman with Jordan's King Abdullah sometimes ran to eight hours in a single sitting. "The king would joke: 'Oh, Bandar's coming again? Let's clear two days for the meeting,' " said a person familiar with the meetings.
Jordan's financial dependence on Saudi Arabia gave the Saudis strong leverage, officials in the region and the U.S. said. They said that with the blessing of the Jordanian king, an operations center in Jordan started going online in the summer of 2012, including an airstrip and warehouses for arms. Saudi-procured AK-47s and ammunition then started arriving, Arab officials said.
Prince Bandar sent his younger half-brother and then-deputy national-security adviser, Salman bin Sultan, to oversee the operation in Jordan. Some regional officials took to calling him "mini-Bandar." Earlier this summer, Prince Salman was elevated to deputy defense minister....
Prince Bandar flew to Paris soon after for talks with French officials. In July he was in Moscow to meet with one of Mr. Assad's prime supporters, President Vladimir Putin.
A generation ago, Prince Bandar, in a role foreshadowing his current one on behalf of Syrian opposition, helped the CIA arm the Afghan rebels who were resisting occupation by Soviet troops.
Arab diplomats said that in meeting with Russian officials this summer, the prince delivered the same message he gave the Soviets 25 years ago: that the kingdom had plenty of money and was committed to using it to prevail..."

No comments: