For Saudi watchers, some fascinating news has just made its way to The Washington Note.
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.
In what’s being billed as a ‘scoop’, Steven Clemons, writing at The Washington Note, offers up this story.
I’ve no reason to doubt it, but as with any scoop, there’s no other source for verification yet.
Adel Al-Jubeir should be familiar to many Americans. His was the face and voice of Saudi Arabia seen and heard during the period following 9/11 up until King Abdullah’s ascension last year. Al-Jubeir was the foreign policy advisor to then-Crown Prince Abdullah, trusted to get the message the Kingdom wanted transmitted to American publics. On becoming King, however, Abdullah had a Foreign Minister, Pr Saud Al-Faisal, obviating Al-Jubeir’s role.
If Al-Jubeir is indeed to be the next ambassador to the US, he brings several positives to the table, as this write-up as Time Magazine‘s “Person of the Week” article from 2002 describes.
As a non-royal, he is excused from intra-family arguments, allowing him to work at a technocratic level, much the same as the non-royal Ministers of Petroleum & Minerals have worked for the past 30 years. He does have the King’s confidence—always a plus for an ambassador—and he’s well-known in Washington. That’s a pretty good recipe for a successful ambassador.
[UPDATE 12/22: The Washington Post confirms that the Al^Jubeir has been nominated as the new ambassador. The US government has an opportunity to accept or reject him, but it's extremely unlikely that he would be rejected.]