Non-Royal Adel al-Jubeir Next Saudi Ambassador
Steve Clemons has a scoop:
A former staffer at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, ADEL AL-JUBEIR, who comes from a distinguished, yet non-royal family, has risen to such levels of esteem in the estimation of Saudia Arabia’s King Abdullah that he has been appointed the next Saudi Ambassador to the United States.
This is quite remarkable news. One of the rumored successors to Prince Turki al-Faisal, who recently resigned as Ambassador in Washington with plans to depart at the end of January 2007, was Prince Turki’s cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al-Saud, who is currently Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Prince Mohammed succeeded Prince Turki in London after having served as Ambassador to Italy after Turki was assigned to Washington. Many expected Prince Mohammed to move to Washington, but family concerns kept the Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
Interesting news, indeed. Much more analysis at the link.
Reuters also has a story, citing Clemons as a source.
UPDATE: John Burgess sees “several positives” to the appointment, should it pan out.
Al-Jubeir would be a good choice for the job. By being non-royal, he misses all the internecine conflicts. As Abdullah’s former foreign affairs advisor, he has the King’s confidence.
More at Crossroads Arabia.
I was going to leave the comment I can’t wait to get John Burgess’s take on this but I see that I won’t have to ;-).
John, is there a subtext to this appointment? Are royals hedging their bets WRT to Washington? Is a non-royal a slap to Washington?
Have you ever met Adel Al-Jubeir? The impression I’ve received from his television appearances is that he is an extremely smooth character.
I’ve not actually met Adel, though I’ve worked with him via phone.
I don’t see his appointment (if indeed he’s being appointed) any sort of slap or demotion. What’s most desired of an ambassador is that a) he has the trust of the head of state of the sending country and b) can get that head of state on the phone at 0300, if needed. That’s why US ambassadors to high profile places are uniformly political appointees.
Jubeir has shown himself to be a confidant of Abdullah. That’s the big deal. That he’s perfectly at ease in the US—is ‘practically American according to some Saudi critics—is frosting on the cake.
I guess the question I’m asking is whether Saudis and other people in the Middle East will see the appointment of someone other than a member of the Saud family as downgrading Washington’s importance.