RIYADH : Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the architect of Riyadh’s policy on Syria, has been removed from his post, a royal decree carried by state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.
Prince Bandar, a former ambassador to Washington, was appointed to the post in July 2012 and given the task of helping Syrian rebels fighting to bring down President Bashar al-Assad.
“Prince Bandar was relieved of his post at his own request and General Youssef al-Idrissi was asked to carry out the duties of the head of general intelligence,” SPA said. It did not give any further details. Idrissi had been serving as Prince Bandar’s deputy. Prince Bandar has been on medical leave since early this year and was reported to have undergone surgery in the United States and a convalescence period in Morocco. Prince Bandar had warned of a “major shift” away from Washington in October after President Barack Obama, who will visit Riyadh in March, decided against bombing Assad’s forces following a chemical weapons attack in Damascus.