Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Dies, Prince Nayef now Crown Prince

Religious Zealot?

Prince Sultan was Secretary of Defense in Saudi Arabia [technically MODA or "Ministry of Defense and Aviation,"] when I served for two years as the Political/Military Officer in the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia. My job was to get to know the top military colonels in their forties who had received American educations and were primed for future high commands, as well as watch over the incredible increase in American "security assistance" which burgeoned in the late seventies after the Saudis hit the OPEC jackpot and had more money than they knew how to spend.

Prince Sultan's son, Bandar bin Sultan, was one of my favorite interlocutors, as he had a Sudanese slave mother and thus had been excluded from the regular family tree, which basically consisted of lazy good-for-nothing layabouts who got senior commands because their daddy was MODA chief & they had a mommy with royal pedigree. Bandar, on the other hand, was born with princely pedigree, but an actual work ethic and a voracious desire to learn and excel---the rarest commodity in the Saudi Royal Family of Saud.

I also cultivated a number of young Saudi officers, several of whom rose to very high government positions later. I was commended by the American Ambassador Porter who had served under Henry Kissinger as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in a special addendum to my "efficiency report" or report card, with a remark that of all the American officers in the Embassy, I had managed [partly through my Arabic language skills acquired at the Foreign Service Institute in Beirut] to get more information from the "working level" of my Saudi counterparts than any other officer [except of course for the legendary DCM, Hume Horan, who spoke perfect Arabic, though unfortunately with a Libyan accent--the equivalent in the USA of a hillbilly accent].

Indeed, the young officers were close to MODA Minister Sultan and when they came to Jeddah where I maintained a residence where they could "sleep over," they would immediately begin drinking beer, which they much preferred to hard liquor which was available everywhere in Riyadh and Dhahran and other military bases. My diplomatic status meant I could order cases of Carlsberg and other European beers unavailable inside the "Magic Kingdom," as we called it back then.

With tongues loosened, the young officers, or some of them, would tell naughty stories about their princely boss. Not only his massive corrupt practices, but his practice of marrying a young Saudi virgin for a forty-day training cruise, so to speak. If the young woman proved acceptable, she could join his collection of concubines. If not, she was sent off with a handsome retainer.

My favorite story, to speak ill of the dead, was of a distant relative of one of the young officers, who shared her dismay about the wedding night with the morbidly-obese prince who was also their Minister of Defense. As Prince Sultan maneuvered his portly frame on top of the fragile teenager, a door opened and an immense black man with an immensely huge extended private part approached the Prince's anus and began to insert same, which in turn gave the Prince himself a boost enabling congress with his supine teen bride. She shouted in fear and disgust and suddenly extracted herself before the process had even begun to proceed vigorously. She was immediately expelled from the bridal suite and sent home packing with a six-figure hush-money good-bye gift. I wrote this down for an airgram because of a lot of details about more venal forms of corruption going on and Ambassador Porter told me that if this airgram ever reached Foggy Bottom, it would arrive at the Israeli Embassy within hours and be the talk of the diplomatic circuit for months.

So we filed it in the circular file and now it can be told.

Sadly, the death of Sultan means that the fragile King Abdullah will be immediately succeeded by Prince Nayef, whom I am one of the few Americans to have met in the last three decades. Even with the disaster in the nineties when 19 Americans were killed by an Iranian-sponsored terror explosion in Dammam, FBI Director Louis Freeh had to wait for days to meet Prince Nayef, whom I met when visiting senior Ministers along with Ambassador John West, former governor of South Carolina. Prince Nayef looked at Ambassador West and almost refused to shake his hand. Prince Nayef is a true Salafist Wahhabi fanatic and hates Americans as the embodiment of spiritual and material evil. He hates Shi'ites as well, which might be to America's advantage were a confrontation with Iran to occur while he was King after Abdullah passes on, but otherwise, I am straining hard to think of any way that this America-hating senior prince, who is the ultimate unbending and uncompromising patriarch, could ever be persuaded to follow American advice, even on vital oil and military issues important to both countries.

This is being written late in the evening and tomorrow I will check my notes and my literature on the Royal Family----I own a dozen books on the subject and when I returned from Saudi, I was extensively debriefed in Langley about a number of remarks and such I'd written on State Dept. telegrams, so there is some residual stuff remaining in my mind. Let me sleep on it and in the meantime, let's wonder who's going to be the next Saudi Minister of Defense and Aviation.

My final thought before turning in. If Khalid bin Sultan, the head of the Saudi Armed Forces in the First Gulf War succeeds his deceased father, I can assure the gentle reader that one of my friends who was Khalid's PERSONAL BANKER during the war showed me one of the checks that Khalid received DAILY from the French food and other perishable materiel during the war. Even this cynical and hardened Saudi, [whose house I visited rather than meet Gen. Schwartzkopf because the two events coincided the same evening [and where I met many influential Saudis who whined that the Americans were hitting mosques in Baghdad during their occasional bombing runs there---all this while Iraqi Scuds were raining on RIyadh almost daily] was ashamed, in his own words and showed me a check for roughly one million dollars that he had just received and would deposit in Khalid's personal private account the very next morning.

Khalid bin Sultan had been extorting millions from Raytheon for its air defense system a decade before when I knew them in Jeddah----a guy named Ray Carver insulted me and the US Embassy in San Diego at a conference shortly after my return and then, six months later, absconded to Brazil with what Raytheon told me was "over fifteen million dollars."

Ray said the US Embassy was negligent and uncaring. Of course, he himself was very caring, of old number one & his family. He may still be rotting in Rio somewhere, but he and Khalid bin Sultan were the perfect marriage of American corruption and Saudi moral squalor---or vice versa, if you will.

All I can say is that King Abdullah will be remembered after he leaves us as, along with King Fahd, one of America's closest friends in the Middle East.

Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, unless his personal views and virulent hatreds have subsided, will be difficult to deal with. And Barack Obama will have to shine this arrogant zealot's shoes to gain the slightest respect or even attention from the Salafist who would be King.

No comments :