A Saudi Prince Tied to Bush Is Sounding Off-Key

[New York Times] Helene Cooper and Jim Rutenberg - Current and former Bush administration officials are wondering if the longtime reliance on Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia has begun to outlive its usefulness. In February, Bandar's uncle, King Abdullah, effectively torpedoed plans by Secretary of State Rice for a high-profile meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas by brokering a power-sharing agreement with Abbas' Fatah and Hamas that did not require Hamas to recognize Israel or forswear violence. The Americans had believed, after discussions with Prince Bandar, that the Saudis were on board with the strategy of isolating Hamas. During a speech before Arab heads of state in Riyadh three weeks ago, the king condemned the American invasion of Iraq as "an illegal foreign occupation." The Bush administration, caught off guard, was infuriated "The problem is that Bandar has been pursuing a policy that was music to the ears of the Bush administration, but was not what King Abdullah had in mind at all," said Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who is now head of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

2007-04-30 01:00:00

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