Saturday, June 23, 2012

Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Dies

As Political Officer in the Saudi Embassy of the USA, I personally was one of the last Americans to meet this senior Prince, whose fanatical devotion to Islam was only exceeded by his hatred of America. The one grew out of the other, in that like many "devout" Muslims, Nayef regarded America as the personification of "The Great Satan."

I was with the US Ambassador at the time and doing an introductory round of visits with Ministers. The Ministry of the Interior in Saudi Arabia is much more powerful than the Dept. of Justice in the USA, and Minister Nayef had almost absolute power to imprison almost anyone he wished, outside of VIPs, which I as a diplomat happened to be at that time. Even back then, Nayef was a difficult "get" and I can remember his half-smirk, half-sneer as he treated Ambassador West and myself to a perfunctory interview. After that, the only American I think he met was an occasional Ambassador and Louis Freeh, who investigated the Dhahran bombings which killed 19 American personnel.

The presumptive new Crown Prince Salman is so highly regarded among the senior princes that King Faisal, way back in the sixties, always had him by his side. I am glad for America's sake that Prince Salman, another Prince I have met and have a medal from, is eventually going to be, God-Willing, running that oil-rich kingdom. Like King Abdullah, he is a warm and gracious human being.

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