Minggu, 11 Agustus 2013

WHICH IS THE TRUTH...?? >> PRINCE BANDAR BIN SULTAN..HAD BEEN INFORMED A COUPLE YEARS AGO WAS DIED..?? BUT ..NOW INCIDENTALLY..HE WAS IN MOSCOW..?....>> A spokesman for the U.S. State Department on Wednesday said recent stories reporting that Bandar, 63, had been killed were not true. ...>> ... Additionally, David Ignatius, a veteran foreign-affairs columnist with the Washington Post, reported on Aug. 5 that the rumors of Bandar's death were false. This week, Ignatius confirmed that his source on Bandar was solid. "Yes, before I wrote my piece on Aug. 5, I talked with a source who confirmed, based on personal knowledge, Prince Bandar had been in regular phone contact with foreign officials that week to discuss intelligence matters," Ignatius wrote in response to an email query. ...>> ....For a generation, Prince Bandar bin Sultan was Riyadh's man in Washington. As the Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005, he was even dubbed "Bandar Bush" for his close ties to that powerful American political dynasty. After leaving Washington, apparently burned out, he returned to Saudi Arabia to head the newly established Saudi National Security Council, the function of which was not, and still is not, clear. However, he continued to sneak back into the United States periodically because the king quickly decided he preferred Bandar over his successor, Prince Turki al-Faisal, as his channel to the White House — a situation that eventually led Turki to resign in protest...>>....Bandar's exact role remains to be seen. As the son of a former slave girl in his father's court, he lacks the pedigree to be king himself. But he is married to an al-Faisal princess, and his connections in Washington make him a valuable ally for any would-be monarch. Within the family, he can explain the folly of internal royal dissension in a region increasingly threatened by Iran. Amid all the rumors and innuendo, insiders agree on one concrete fact: Bandar is back as a player in Saudi politics. ..>>.. Moscow has said “no” to Saudi Arabia’s alleged proposal of a rich arms deal and protection of Russia’s gas interests in the Middle East in exchange for abandoning Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to Arab and European diplomats...>>

Bandar still alive, insiders say

ASPEN - Prince Bandar bin Sultan, chief of Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency and still an Aspen property owner, is apparently alive and well despite rumors in early August that he had been assassinated in an explosion.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department on Wednesday said recent stories reporting that Bandar, 63, had been killed were not true.

David Ottaway, who retired from the Washington Post in 2006 after 30 years of covering Saudi Arabia, also says the stories were false.

"If Bandar had died, the government would have announced it," Ottaway said. "It would not be possible to hide such a death, even in Saudi Arabia. I do not believe he has died, but I have not seen him in public since he took his new job."

Ottaway is the author of the 2008 book "The King's Messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America's Tangled Relationship with Saudi Arabia." 

"The Iranians are constantly putting out stories through their agents of some mishap about Bandar that have been all false so far," Ottaway wrote Thursday in response to an email query.

Additionally, David Ignatius, a veteran foreign-affairs columnist with the Washington Post, reported on Aug. 5 that the rumors of Bandar's death were false.

This week, Ignatius confirmed that his source on Bandar was solid.

"Yes, before I wrote my piece on Aug. 5, I talked with a source who confirmed, based on personal knowledge, Prince Bandar had been in regular phone contact with foreign officials that week to discuss intelligence matters," Ignatius wrote in response to an email query. 

Further evidence of Bandar's continued existence also came on Aug. 14, when the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that noted that Bandar was in attendance at the Islamic Solidarity Summit being held in Mecca.

And on Aug. 15, the Qatar News Agency reported that Bandar had escorted the emir of Qatar to the airport in Jeddah after the first day of the summit.

Bandar, who served as Saudi ambassador to the U.S. from 1983 to 2005, built a lavish estate in Aspen in 1991. 

In June, he sold his main home and another nearby residence in the Starwood neighborhood to hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson for $49 million. In 2007, Bandar sold another Starwood home for $36 million.

But Bandar owned four homes in Starwood, and he still owns a relatively modest 5,200-square-foot home valued at $5.2 million by the Pitkin County assessor.

The home is listed as being owned by Bricol NV, an entity controlled by Bandar and managed by attorney William Jordan III, who did not respond to a request for comment.
After several years of keeping a low profile, Bandar suddenly made international headlines in the past five weeks and became the subject of wide speculation, perhaps as the result of a deliberate misinformation campaign.

The tale starts on July 18, when a suicide bomber was able to detonate an explosion at Syria's National Security Headquarters in Damascus, killing the Syrian defense minister and the deputy defense minister, who was also President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law. The Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility.

The next day, July 19, Bandar, already secretary general of the Saudi National Security Council, also was named chief of intelligence by King Abdullah. 

That prompted speculation by some media outlets that Bandar's additional intelligence role was a reward for the Syrian bombing. The Saudis have urged military intervention in the Syrian conflict against the Assad regime.

On July 22, Iran's English-language Press TV ran a story headlined "Blast hits Saudi intelligence building, killing deputy spy chief." 

The Press TV story said Bandar's deputy had been killed. The Iranian story said that Yemen's al-Fajr Press had quoted eyewitnesses to the bombing, which has not been reported in the Western media. 

On July 29, the website of the Voltaire Network, a pro-Syrian nonprofit organization, upped the ante and ran a story headlined "Syria reportedly eliminated Bandar bin Sultan in retaliation for Damascus bombing."

"Though not yet announced by the Saudi authorities, the death of Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been confirmed to Voltaire Network by unofficial sources," the story claimed.

The next day, the Voltaire Network appeared to walk the story back a notch.

"Strangely, Saudi authorities have not responded to inquiries by the media, refusing to confirm or deny the death of their newly appointed chief of the intelligence services. Clearly, regardless of whether the prince is dead or alive, such muteness denotes a serious disarray within the Saudi royal family," an article stated.

But by then, the rumor of Bandar's death was off to the races.

On July 31, The International Business Times News ran a story with the headline "Prince Bandar bin Sultan: Is the Saudi spy chief dead or alive?" 

The same day, Iran's Press TV ran a report titled "Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar assassinated, report says" and cited the Voltaire Network as the source. 

The managing editor of The Aspen Times noticed the stories and ran a short column on Aug. 1 labeled "commentary" about the rumors of Bandar's death.

The next day, the Times published a second commentary on the "Bandar mystery," admitting the paper was "utterly clueless on this one." 

Iran's Press TV saw the Times commentaries, and an Iranian television host noted during an interview on Aug. 4 that "We've also got the local paper in Aspen, Colo., wondering what is the fate of one of their famous residents, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, who owns a condo in Aspen, who hasn't been seen for the last week or two. There are reports that he succumbed to an attack on his headquarters."

But the same day, some push-back on the rumor came from Saudi Arabia.

A piece by Ali Bluwi in Arab News - said to be aligned with the Saudi royal family - denounced the rumors of Bandar's death Aug. 4 as "Iranian and Syrian propaganda." 

The article said the source of the rumors was the man behind the Voltaire Network, Thierry Meyssan.

"Usually there is a lot of fabricated news about personalities of Bandar's caliber, and that has been the case now," the article stated.

The next day, the Voltaire Network acknowledged the Aug. 4 story in Arab News.

"Taking note of the information relayed by Arab News on the activities of Prince Bandar, Voltaire Network wishes him a speedy recovery and expressed the hope that no formal commitments will crop up to interfere with his convalescence," a story on Voltairenet.org said.

Also on Aug. 5, Post columnist Ignatius wrote that the rumor of Bandar's death "was rebutted Friday by a source who said that Bandar had been in telephone contact with non-Saudis."

Then came the official statements from the Saudi and Qatar governments placing Bandar in Mecca and Jeddah in mid-August.

Since then, the speculation about Bandar's death has quieted, but there have been no stories confirming that he is, in fact, alive. 

Wednesday's statement from a State Department spokesperson appears to be the first acknowledgment from a U.S. official that the reports earlier this month of Bandar's death were in fact false.

Moscow ‘rejects’ Saudi ‘offer’ to drop Assad for rich arms deal

Russia Today — August 8, 2013


Moscow has said “no” to Saudi Arabia’s alleged proposal of a rich arms deal and protection of Russia’s gas interests in the Middle East in exchange for abandoning Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to Arab and European diplomats.

The proposal of $15 billion in weapons contracts was allegedly made during the July 31 meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and influential intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Reuters reported.

Neither Moscow nor Riyadh has officially commented on the agenda of the talks, but a Thursday AFP report revealed new details of the negotiations.

According to an undisclosed European diplomat, Prince Bandar proposed the deal and told Putin that “whatever regime comes after” Assad will be “completely” in Riyadh’s hands. The Prince reportedly stated that if the deal was accepted, Saudi Arabia would not sign any contracts damaging Russian interests by allowing Gulf countries to transport its gas across Syria to Europe.

The terms included Moscow dropping its support of President Bashar Assad, as well as not opposing any future Security Council resolutions on Syria.

“President Putin listened politely to his interlocutor and let him know that his country would not change its strategy,” a separate Arab diplomat told AFP.

Bandar bin Sultan then told Russian officials that the only option left in Syria is a military one – and that they should forget about the Geneva-2 international peace conference because the opposition would not attend, the source said. Efforts to bring about the conference – which has been put forth by the US and Moscow – have so far been fruitless, mainly because of the absence of unity within the opposition ranks.
Russia and Saudi Arabia – which traditionally buys its military hardware from the US  – have had a massive arms contract frozen since 2008. Back then, the sides agreed that Moscow would supply a huge assortment of equipment, including 150 T-90 tanks and more than 150 attack helicopters, to the Gulf state.


According to sources within Russian arms exporters, the status of the deal has not changed following the talks. The insider added that Russia has not received any offers to purchase weapons from Saudi Arabia.

“We know nothing about such intentions of the Saudi side,” a senior source in military-technical cooperation told RIA Novosti news agency.
Some Russian experts say Saudi Arabia acted as a US proxy in the alleged proposal, as it has been doing for the past two years of the Syrian conflict.
“Any direct involvement in the region by either the US or any former European colonial powers is perceived as an affront. But with the given arrangement, any initiatives by the influential, authoritarian regional super power (and Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly that) are taken for granted,” political analyst Igor Khokhlov told RT.
“The situation is nothing new,” he added. “Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s were being sponsored by the USA and Saudi Arabia in equal shares. But the Saudi role allowed the US to present the conflict as a war of liberation – not as a clash of two superpowers in the farthest reaches of the world.”
Others believe the media reports of a Saudi offer is nothing more than a hoax aimed at highlighting Russia’s stance on Syria in a negative way, adding that such a method is no way to “conduct diplomacy.”

“Clearly, this is stove-piping,” director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Vitaly Naumkin, told Interfax news agency. “Its purpose is either to influence the position of the Syrian authorities or, more likely, to discredit Russia. To sow doubt on the fact that Moscow has a serious and reasoned position on Syria, and to create the impression that Russia may change its point of view in exchange for Saudi promises.”

Naumkin reminded that similar attempts were made previously. There were reports in 2009 of that Barack Obama told then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Washington would change its position on Iran if Moscow ended the halting of a US missile shield program in Eastern Europe.

The meeting between Putin and Bandar came amid tension between the two states over the conflict in Syria, with Russia accusing the Saudis of “financing and arming terrorists and extremist groups” fighting against Assad.



Rusia menolak rayuan Saudi untuk meninggalkan sekutunya, Syria, meski Saudi mengiming-imingi imbalan besar. Imbalan tersebut berupa paket pembelian senjata miliaran dolar serta jaminan kepentingan bisnia gas Rusia di Timur Tengah. Demikian laporan media Rusia, Russia Today, Jumat (9/8), mengutip keterangan beberapa diplomat Rusia dan Arab.

Proposal pembelian senjata senilai $15 miliar serta jaminan kepentingan bisnis tersebut disampaikan oleh kepala inteligen Saudi Bandar bin Sultan saat menemui Presiden Rusia Vladimir Putin tgl 31 Juli lalu. Baik pejabat Rusia maupun Saudi bungkam mengenai informasi tersebut, namun kantor berita Perancis AFP hari Kamis (8/8) melaporkan secara mendetil pertemuan tersebut.

Menurut laporan tersebut Pangeran Bandar meminta Putin untuk menyetujui Arab Saudi untuk menentukan masa depan kepemimpinan Syria setelah Bashar al Assad. Dan sebagai imbalannya Saudi berjanji untuk tidak melakukan kontrak bisnis yang merugikan kepentingan Rusia dengan cara mengalirkan migas negara-negara Teluk ke Eropa melalui Syria. Adapun syarat yang diajukan Bandar adalah agar Rusia menghentikan
dukungannya terhadap regim Bashar al Assad, termasuk tidak memblok resolusi DK PBB yang akan diterapkan terhadap Syria.

“Presiden Putin mendengarkan dengan tenang perkataan lawan bicaranya dan menjelaskan bahwa sikap negara Rusia tidak berubah," tulis AFP mengutip pernyataan seorang diplomat Arab.

Bandar bin Sultan selanjutnya mengatakan kepada para pejabat Rusia bahwa solusi yang tersisa atas konflik Syria adalah penyelesaian militer seraya menambahkan bahwa pemberontak tidak akan hadir dalam pertemuan Genewa II, sehingga rencana tersebut dipastikan akan batal.

Sejauh ini rencana perundingan Genewa II memang diragukan akan berlangsung seperti diharapkan karena ketidak kompakan pemberontak dan posisi mereka yang tengah berada di bawah angin yang membuat perundingan dianggap tidak akan menguntungkan mereka dan negara-negara sponsornya.

Saudi Arabia yang secara tradisi mengandalkan persenjataannya dari Amerika, sejak tahun 2008 memiliki sejumah besar kontrak pembelian senjata dari Rusia yang dibekukan, di antaranya pembelian 150 tank T-90 dan 150 helikopter serbu. Dengan gagalnya pertemuan Bandar-Putin tersebut, dipastikan kontrak tersebut tidak berubah statusnya.

Beberapa pengamat politik Rusia menganggap upaya Pangeran Bandar tersebut hanya kepanjangan tangan Amerika belaka, sebagaimana telah dilakukan beberapa kali sebelumnya sejak konflik Syria pecah lebih dari 2 tahun lalu.

"Situasinya tidak berbeda dengan dahulu. Pemimpin mujahidin Afghanistan Gulbuddin Hekmatyar didukung oleh USA dan Saudi Arabia bersama-sama. Namun peran Saudi memungkinkan Amerika mengkampanyekan perang Afganistan sebagai "perang pembebasan", bukan perang antar 2 negara superpower,” kata analis politik Igor Khokhlov kepada Russia Today.

Pengamat lainnya menganggap upaya Pangeran Bandar sebagai langkah "tipuan" untuk mengesankan adanya ketidakstabilan sikap Rusia atas Syria.

Hubungan Rusia-Saudi sendiri kini berada dalam kondisi "dingin" setelah kedua pihak saling menuduh dalam konflik Syria. Terakhir Rusia menuduh Saudi telah membiayai dan mempersenjatai para teroris di Syria.

"Moscow ‘rejects’ Saudi ‘offer’ to drop Assad for rich arms deal"; Russia Today; 8 AgustUS 2013

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