- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

New Saudi envoy

Adel al-Jubeir, the urbane public face of the Saudi monarchy who is also well-connected in Washington, was yesterday named the new ambassador to the United States from the oil-rich desert kingdom.

King Abdullah issued a decree appointing Mr. al-Jubeir and accepting the surprise resignation of Prince Turki al-Faisal, who stepped down last month after about a year as ambassador here.

Mr. al-Jubeir, 44, is not a member of the Saudi royal family, but he has powerful relations with the monarchy, having served as King Abdullah’s foreign policy adviser since 2000 when the king was crown prince and as a spokesman for Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served 22 years as ambassador to the United States. Mr. al-Jubeir’s brother, Nail, now holds the post of the embassy’s chief spokesman.

The new ambassador was educated in the United States, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree in political science from Georgetown University.

Mr. al-Jubeir first appeared as a spokesman for the Saudi government during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which forced Saddam Hussein to retreat from Kuwait, and in 2002 endured intense press scrutiny as he defended Saudi Arabia after the September 11 attacks in the United States. Fifteen of the 19 suicide hijackers were Saudi subjects.

While at the embassy, Mr. al-Jubeir was featured in gossip columns for dating NBC News anchor Campbell Brown.

Mr. al-Jubeir, who is expected to take up his position next month, displayed his skills as a communicator and a diplomat at a press conference in April 2005, after King Abdullah, then crown prince, met with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“Our two countries … have seen the coming and breaking of many storms,” Mr. al-Jubeir told reporters. “The relationship has been steadfast, and it’s grown with every decade, irrespective of who the president of the United States is.”

He assured the press of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the war on terrorism and cited the kingdom as a reliable source of oil for the United States.

“Our countries are facing many challenges, whether it is the war on terrorism where we face the common enemy of al Qaeda; whether it is trying to broaden and deepen economic ties,” he said.

Tough talking

John R. Bolton, the straight-talking former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, dropped diplomatic niceties in an interview with a French newspaper, calling for the replacement of the Iranian government, criticizing some U.S. moves in Iraq and fretting about the U.S. troop surge.

He told Le Monde, in the interview published yesterday, that the U.N. Security Council passed a toothless resolution that gave Iran until Feb. 23 to respond to demands that it cease its nuclear weapons program. Mr. Bolton blamed Russia for gutting an earlier draft of the resolution to the point where it “does not have great effectiveness.”

“The negotiations have failed,” he said, adding that the only way to deal with the Iranian regime is to “isolate them on the international level.”

“In the long run — and I hope not the very long run — the only true solution is regime change,” Mr. Bolton said.

He criticized the Bush administration’s early administrative control over Iraq through the Coalition Provisional Authority, which, he said, deprived the Iraqis of “political responsibilities.”

“It gave the terrorists and the remainders of [Saddam Hussein’s] Ba’ath Party a chance to gather,” he said.

Mr. Bolton supported Mr. Bush’s troop surge but called it “the best of a series of bad options.” He warned that a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops would be seen as a sign of weakness in the Middle East.

“It is necessary to avoid another version of the Vietnam syndrome, ” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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