Bandar bin Sultan

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Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (born March 2, 1949) is an influential Saudi politician and was Saudi Ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. He was appointed Secretary-General of the National Security Council by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on 16 October, 2005. [1]


Born in Taif, Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar is a son of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. His mother was a family servant; under Sharia all sons have equal status. [2] He received a Masters in International Public Policy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. [3]

Prince Bandar's diplomatic experience began in 1978, when he successfully lobbied the United States Congress to approve the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia. In 1983 he was appointed ambassador to the United States. [4]


In 1984, after the US Congress passed the Boland Amendments restricting aid to the Contras, Robert McFarlane asked Bandar to make good the shortfall. Bandar arranged a £1 million monthly contribution beginning in mid-1984.[5]

Political Career

Prince Bandar has formed close relationships with several American presidents, notably George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, who gave him the affectionate nickname "Bandar Bush". [6] His friendship with Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, extends to the years before Cheney took office as the United States Vice President. The close relationship with the Bush family is also described in Craig Unger's book House of Bush, House of Saud.


Prince Bandar has endured controversy over allegations in the book Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward that President George W. Bush informed him of the decision to invade Iraq ahead of Secretary of State Colin Powell. Also, the book alleged a deal had been worked out to reduce oil prices just ahead of the November 2004 election. Bandar publicly endorsed President Bush.

On June 26 2005, Prince Bandar reportedly submitted his resignation as ambassador to the United States for "personal reasons".[7] [8] Bandar's return to Saudi Arabia was announced weeks prior to the death of King Fahd upon which Bandar's father, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz became the nation's Crown Prince. It has been rumoured that Bandar's return was timed in order to secure a position in the new government. [9] In October 2005, he became the kingdom's national security chief.

After the ambassadorship

According to UPI's Editor at Large Arnaud de Borchgrave (writing in late December 2006), Bandar met secretly with U.S. officials in 2006 after leaving the ambassadorship: [10]

Since Turki [Prince Turki al-Faisal] became ambassador, Bandar made several secret trips to the U.S., ostensibly to visit his palatial Aspen mansion [...] But Bandar had permission to land at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, ostensibly for refueling, which allowed him to move incognito to Camp David for meetings with National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Bandar also met with NSC Middle East Director Elliott Abrams, a prominent neocon.

Bandar is more "truculent" toward Iran than is Turki, his successor as U.S. ambassador (2005-2006), according to de Borchgrave, and Bandar even persuaded other high Saudi government officials to his point of view, including King Abdullah, Defense Minister Sultan, and Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, to his point of view that (in de Borchgrave's description) "nothing short of military action would deter Iran from becoming the world's 10th nuclear power."

Wafic Said

Prince Bandar is reported to be the chief Saudi patron of Wafic Said, who is a 'former operator of a kebab restaurant who made millions in commissions on a 1985 British Aerospace arms deal to sell Tornado fighters to the Saudi royal family'.[11] Wafic Said's wife Rosemary Said, has given the UK Conservative Party over £580,000 and is a member of David Cameron's Leaders' Group of elite donors that enjoy direct access to the UK Prime Minister by virtue of donating more than £50,000.

Tax Loophole

In an article in 2002 on the subject of how 'Rich people are costing Britain millions in lost tax by not registering their houses in their own names', the Guardian reports that Bandar is an 'absentee landlord' of his Cotswald manson, his large farming estate and the entire village of Glympton. They are registered offshore in the name of a Jersey company, which in turn is owned by a bank official and an accountant. Bandar's estate manager is reported to have explained that behind this lay a common scheme, a discretionary trust whose beneficiaries were members of the Bandar's family. He had been advised this would enable them to keep the property after his death and "Since he is not resident in this country, no liability for tax arises under this structure."[12]. The article claims that through the exploitation of legal loopholes 'wealthy individuals... appear to be enjoying the country's choicest property virtually tax-free'. The article also mentions Margaret Thatcher, Mohamed Al Fayed, David Potter, Christopher Ondaatje, Lakshmi Mittal, Uri David, Rupert Allason, Wafic Said, Anthony Tabatznik and Isaac Kaye as others who are not the registered owners of their homes who may benefit from such a loophole.

External links


  1. 'Prince Bandar Biography', Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington DC, website, accessed 30 March, 2009.
  2. 'Who's Who : The House of Saud', PBS website
  3. 'Prince Bandar Biography', Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington DC, website, accessed 30 March, 2009.
  4. L. Carl Brown, 'Review of David B. Ottaway's "The King's Messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America's Tangled Relationship with Saudi Arabia", Foreign Affairs website, March/April, 2009.
  5. Lawrence E. Walsh, Firewall: The Iran -Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up, W.W. Norton, 1997, p.19.
  6. Matt Welch, 'Is 'Bandar Bush' above the law?', National Post, 19 April, 2003.
  7. Robert Windrem et al., 'NBC: Saudi envoy to U.S. offers resignation', [1], 27 June, 2005.
  8. 'Bandar stays as envoy to US: Saudi', Gulf Times website, 28 June, 2005.
  9. Jon Leyne, 'Tensions remain among Saudi royals', BBC website, 1 August, 2005.
  10. UPI website
  11. Evans, R & Hencke, D. (2002) 'Tax loopholes on homes benefit the rich and cost UK millions'. The Guardian 25th May 2002. Accessed 22nd May 2008
  12. Evans, R & Hencke, D. (2002) 'Tax loopholes on homes benefit the rich and cost UK millions'. The Guardian 25th May 2002. Accessed 22nd May 2008