Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A00479 - Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Prince and Diplomat


Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia in 2014. He helped to settle a civil war in Lebanon and to smooth bumps in a tight relationships with the U.S. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Prince Saud al-Faisal, the urbane diplomat who used quiet diplomacy to maintain Saudi Arabia’s regional influence and alliance with the United States during his four decades as foreign minister, died on Thursday, according to Saudi officials and state news media. He was 75.
Before his retirement in April, Prince Saud was the world’s longest-serving foreign minister and helped shape the kingdom’s responses to monumental changes in the Middle East.
During his tenure, he dealt with a civil war in Lebanon, whose end he helped mediate; thePalestinian uprisings against Israel in 1987 and 2000; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon; the American invasion of Iraq in 2003; and the Arab uprisings of 2011.
He used a combination of oil wealth, religious influence and close relationships with world leaders as leverage for diplomacy that was most often done far from the public eye.

“It was traditional, state diplomacy that was conservative, quiet and logical,” said Abdullah al-Shammari, a Saudi political analyst in Riyadh, the capital, and a former diplomat. “He did not take hasty or emotional positions.”
The length of Prince Saud’s tenure and his role inside the royal family made him an essential player in the reigns of four Saudi kings and an interlocutor for seven American presidents.
As fluent in English as he was in Arabic and as comfortable in a suit and tie as in a traditional Saudi robe, he was for much of his career a familiar face in Washington and other capitals.
Ford M. Fraker, the United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2007 to 2009, said he often told his bosses in Washington that Prince Saud was among three Saudi officials who could quickly get things done. The others were King Abdullah and Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, who succeeded Prince Saud as foreign minister.
“Saud was in the middle of it all,” Mr. Fraker said. “There was not a single foreign policy decision that he was not involved in.”
While many Saudis praised Prince Saud as an international representative of the kingdom and its policies, he often called his failure to help the Palestinians achieve an independent state his greatest regret.
“We have not yet seen moments of joy in all that time,” he said, looking back on his career in an interview with The New York Times in 2009. “We have seen only moments of crisis; we have seen only moments of conflict, and how can you have any pleasure in anything that happens when you have people like the Palestinians living as they are?”
Prince Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was born in the Saudi city of Taef in 1940, the third son of the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal, who became king in 1964, while continuing to serve was foreign minister.
He was educated at the Hun School of Princeton and then at Princeton University, where Mr. Fraker recalled seeing him on the soccer field. Years later, the prince would recall struggling with his studies and wanting to drop out, Mr. Fraker said.
But his rise was swift. He returned to Saudi Arabia after graduating with a degree in economics and worked in the Saudi Oil Ministry before replacing his father as foreign minister after his father’s assassination in 1975.
That year, a civil war that would shake Lebanon for 15 years began, and Prince Saud became one of the mediators who helped bring about an accord that ended hostilities in 1990.
While he maintained close ties with Washington, the kingdom’s relationship with the United States was not always smooth. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 lead to the deployment of American troops on Saudi soil, a move that caused consternation among the Saudi public and in much of the Arab world.
American support for Israel raised tensions, especially during the two Palestinian uprisings against Israel in 1987 and 2000.
The 9/11 attacks also strained ties with the United States, especially after it was determined that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.
Those attacks prompted new scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative religious doctrines and of the monarchy’s support for the military campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Many Saudi citizens traveled to Afghanistan at that time to wage “jihad,” often with the support of the Saudi government. Some of those fighters later joined Osama bin Laden, also a Saudi, to form Al Qaeda.
Robert W. Jordan, the United States ambassador to Riyadh from 2002 to 2003, credited Prince Saud with realizing the danger that Al Qaeda posed and working to sustain American-Saudi ties.
“He helped maintain the relationship with the U.S. after 9/11 when it could have gone completely south,” Mr. Jordan said. “He had the patience and the perseverance to make sure that both sides understood that this relationship had existed for many decades and had many common interests.”
But a new strain developed with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, leaving Saudi Arabia to face the fall of a Sunni Arab leader there and a greater role for Iran, the kingdom’s Shiite rival, in Baghdad.
Prince Saud became a fixture of international and regional diplomacy, whether at Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Arab League or the Gulf Cooperation Council. Those who worked with him recall his sharp intellect and his propensity for charming guests and journalists with jokes.
Foreign diplomats and analysts have contended that Prince Saud’s domination of the Saudi Foreign Ministry hampered its professionalization and prevented the development of other capable diplomats.
His health had begun to fail in recent years, and he spent long periods of time in the United States for medical treatment.
During that time, the regional order that he had long been a part of started to crumble. Saudi Arabia scrambled to deal with the Arab Spring uprisings, toppling some of its longtime allies. And wars now rage in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, while the jihadists of the Islamic State have founded a self-declared caliphate and carried out suicide attacks abroad, including inside Saudi Arabia.
Many Saudis described Prince Saud’s passing as the end of an era, and some have expressed concern about the kingdom’s new, more assertive posture, typified by the bombing campaign it is leading against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Prince Saud is survived by three sons and three daughters, all from the same wife, said Joseph Kechichian, a senior fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh.


Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabicسعود بن فيصل بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎), also known as Saud Al Faisal (Arabicسعود الفيصل‎‎; 2 January 1940 – 9 July 2015), was a Saudi diplomat and statesman who served as Saudi Arabia's foreign minister from 1975 to 2015. By the time of his retirement, he was the world's longest-serving foreign minister. He was a member of the Saudi royal family.

Early life, education and early political career[edit]

Saud bin Faisal was born in Taif on 2 January 1940.[1][2] He was the second son of King Faisal and Iffat Al-Thunayan.[3][4] He attended the Hun School of Princeton[5] and graduated from Princeton University in 1964 or 1965 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics.[6][7] He was the full brother of Mohammed bin FaisalTurki bin FaisalLuluwah bint FaisalSara bint Faisal and Haifa bint Faisal.[8]
He became an economic consultant for the ministry of petroleum.[6] In 1966, he moved to general organization for petroleum and mineral resources (Petromin).[6] In February 1970, he became deputy governor of Petromin for planning affairs.[6] He was also a member of the High Coordination Committee.[6] In 1971, he became deputy minister of petroleum.[6] Until his appointment as state minister for foreign affairs in 1975, Prince Saud served in this post at the oil ministry.[9]

Foreign Minister[edit]

Saud bin Faisal was the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia. He was appointed to the post in March 1975.[9] His term ended on 29 April 2015 when he was replaced by Adel al-Jubeir, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States.[10]


In March 1975, King Khalid appointed him as foreign minister.[9] He currently holds the record for having been the world's longest-serving foreign minister. He was well regarded in the diplomatic community.[11] He spoke seven languages.[11]
In May 1985, he officially visited Iran and meetings were focused on the annual pilgrimage of Iranians to Mecca.[12] The same year Prince Saud raised awareness in Britain of Soviet activity in the Horn of Africa.[3] He asked Condoleezza Rice to focus on "key substantive issues" of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He complained that US banks were auditing Saudi Embassy banks illegally. He asserted that auditors were "inappropriate and aggressive". He also declared that the Saudi Embassy has diplomatic immunity.[13]
Prince Saud said in 2004 that Saudi Arabia would like to reduce its dependence on U.S.-dominated security arrangements.[14] In July 2004, he claimed the real source of problems in the Middle East were not Muslims but "injustice and deprivation inflicted in the region".[15] In August 2007, he denied allegations that terrorists were travelling from Saudi Arabia to Iraq and claimed it was vice versa.[16][17]
On 10 March 2006, he met with Hamas leaders in Riyadh.[18] In July 2006, he urged U.S. President George W. Bush to call for a ceasefire in the Lebanon bombing.[19] In January 2008, he supported parliamentary elections in Pakistan. He indicated that Pakistan did not need "overt, external interference" to solve political division. He commended Nawaz Sharif as stable bipartisan candidate.[20]
In February 2010, he told General[who?] Jones to distinguish between friends and enemies in Pakistan rather than using indiscriminate military action. He insisted that Pakistan's army must maintain its credibility.[21] In November 2010, he led the Saudi delegation at the G-20 Summit.[22]
In January 2011, he withdrew out of mediation efforts to reinstate a government in Lebanon.[23] In March 2011, he went to Europe to rally support for Saudi Arabia's intervention in Bahrain.[24]

Prince Saud in 2012
After U.S. Gulf Cooperation Council forum at the GCC secretariat in Riyadh on 31 March 2012, he said it was a "duty" to arm the Syrian opposition and help them defend themselves against the daily bloody crackdown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.[25] Commenting on the fragile security situation, Prince Saud noted that: "One of the most important causes is the continuation of the unresolved conflict as well as the continuation of the Israeli aggression policy against the Palestinians. "We have discussed, in the meeting, many issues, especially the heinous massacre against the Syrian people. We also discussed the latest developments in Yemen, and reviewed the overall developments and political situation in the Gulf region, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their repercussions on the security and stability of the region and the world," Prince Saud said.[26]

Iran and Lebanon[edit]

Rather than military action on Iran, Saud Al Faisal called for tougher sanctions such as travel bans and further bank lending restrictions.[27] He has stated U.S. foreign policy has tilted more power for Iran.[28] He compared the Iranian influence in Iraq with Iranian influence in Lebanon.[13] He commended positive developments by Iran such as its influence over Hezbollah to end street protests.[13]
In early 2011, he expressed fear of the "dangerous" instability in Lebanon after the fall of the Saad Hariri government. He also stated that Lebanon's ability to establish peaceful coexistence with so many different groups may be a significant loss in the Arab world if the nation failed in creating a government.[23]

Prince Saud (left) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on 14 February 2008.
In May 2014 it was reported that Prince Saud had invited Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit Riyadh, breaking the ice in one of the most hostile relationships in the Middle East ahead of key talks on Iran's nuclear program in Vienna. Speaking to reporters in the Saudi capital, Foreign Minister Prince Saud said the kingdom was ready to host Iranian Foreign Minister "anytime he sees fit" and indicated that Riyadh was willing to open negotiations with its nemesis on the many combustible issues dividing them.[29]

Other governmental activities[edit]

Starting in 1998 under the reign of King Fahd, Saud Al Faisal and then the Crown Prince Abdullah managed the energy sector through a committee of technocrats and princes.[30] More specifically, Prince Saud was appointed chairman of the Saudi Aramco's committee charged with the project assessment in September 1999.[31]
On 20 November 2009, King Abdullah appointed Prince Saud as the chairman of the influential supreme economic council of Saudi Arabia.[32][33] Prince Saud was also a member of the military service council.[34]


Saudi foreign policy is designed by the King, not by the foreign minister.[3] Prince Saud worked closely with King Khalid, King Fahd and King Abdullah.
Prince Saud was firmly anti-Soviet and was an Arab nationalist.[3] He was more resistant to Israeli proposals than King Fahd.[3] He lamented his legacy might be defined "by profound disappointment than by success". He regretted how his generation of leaders have failed to create a Palestinian state.[11] He encouraged Iraqis to defend their country's sovereignty.[35]
In the Saudi royal court, his relationship with King Fahd was strained,[3] but he was one of King Abdullah's closest allies.[36] He was among the Saudi officials who worked to improve Saudi Arabia's international image and maintain its strong relationship with the United States after the September 11 attacks.[37][38]
Upon the death of King Abdullah, he was replaced as foreign minister by a younger commoner, Adel al-Jubeir.[36][39]

Personal life[edit]

Prince Saud was married to his cousin Jawhara bint Abdullah bin Abdul-Rahman,[7] and together they have three sons and three daughters.[1][3][40] His daughter Haifa bint Saud is married to Prince Sultan bin Salman,[41] the first of Royal Blood and the first Arab astronaut. Prince Saud lived in Jeddah.[13] Unlike other members of the Al Saud, he often spoke publicly and interacted with reporters.[42] Prince Saud spoke excellent English. He liked to play tennis.[3]

Social roles[edit]

Prince Saud was closely involved in philanthropy. He was a founding member of the King Faisal Foundation and chairman of the board of directors for the King Faisal School and Al Faisal University in Riyadh. He was also a member of the Society for Disabled Children and the Madinah Society for Welfare and Social Services.[43]

Illness and death[edit]

Prince Saud suffered Parkinson's disease back pain.[42] He had surgery in the United States.[42] His physical appearance showed signs of health deterioration, especially difficulty standing upright.[42] On 11 August 2012, he had another surgery to remove a "simple" blockage in the intestines due to adhesions resulting from previous surgery.[44] The operation was performed at the Specialist Hospital in Jeddah.[45] Prince Saud went to Los Angeles after he left the hospital on 6 September 2012. The ministry announced that he would stay there for a while.[46] On 25 January 2015, Prince Saud had a successful spine surgery in the U.S.[47] In March 2015 he was photographed using a walker.[48] With age, Saud faced many health problems, suffering from chronic back pain and having had various surgeries.[49]
Prince Saud died on 9 July 2015 at the age of 75 in Los Angeles.[50][51] His funeral prayer was held in Grand Mosque in Makkah.[52]


Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: سعود بن فيصل بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎), also known as Saud Al Faisal (Arabic: سعود الفيصل‎‎; 2 January 1940 – 9 July 2015), was a Saudi diplomat and statesman who served as Saudi Arabia's foreign minister from 1975 to 2015. By the time of his retirement, he was the world's longest-serving foreign minister. He was a member of the Saudi royal family.

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