Prince Saud and the diplomatic state

Prince Saud underwent many surgeries, and despite all that, he remained conscious and did not give up on his vitality and activity.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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Saudi Arabia’s strength has always been in its diplomacy first and foremost, particularly amid recurring regional crises and erupting violence. Amid tough times, when Saudi Arabia was not able to find suitable political solutions to conflicts, Saudi diplomacy played a key role in the protection of the country through its ties with international governments and organizations.

Two figures are usually in charge of the foreign policy of any country; the head of state and the foreign minister. Saudi Arabia is not an exception – the king and the foreign minister are in charge of this task that requires precise skills and a refined culture. Late Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal was known for his skills and his culture. There is no doubt he is one of the greatest men known for diplomacy, connections, wisdom and success. This is clearly seen in the fact that the kingdom survived regional weaknesses for decades, thanks to its ability to generate dialogue and maneuver through crises.

He underwent many surgeries, and despite all that, he remained conscious and did not give up on his vitality and activity.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Saudi Arabia has succeeded in managing its wars also through its diplomatic activity. Saudi Arabia drew a red line around neighboring Yemen when it was seized by Iranians and their allies; the Kingdom had no other choice but to confront them.

Saudi foreign diplomacy played a crucial role in the Security Council’s recognition of military action as legitimate, the criminalization of Houthi leaders and the prohibition of their arms. It also succeeded in bringing several countries on its side. It rallied governments to vote in favor of the Kingdom, send men to join the war against the rebels, send warships to close ports in the face of Iranian vessels and communicate important intelligence updates. It also urged other governments to positively mediate for the country.

A national treasure

Relations management between countries is akin to a chess game, requiring intelligence and patience. There is no doubt that Prince Saud was intelligent, wise and extremely patient. This is by virtue of the experiences he had amassed over the years, serving four kings and adhering to their circle of trust. He also gained the trust of their opponents too. The Middle East is haunted by ancient conflicts, personal animosities, unstable relations and uncertainties. To top it off, most disputes lack logic; they shouldn’t even exist. Amid such a tense climate, diplomacy represents an important path to safe havens and the protection of a country’s ultimate interests. Historically, the name of the late Prince has been associated to efforts made in halting Lebanon’s civil war, as well as political crises and oil crunches in the 80s, the Iranian-Iraqi war, the occupation of Kuwait, disagreements within the Gulf, ongoing tensions with Iran, the rise of terrorism, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the disasters emerging from the Arab Spring.

I visited Prince Saud, nearly seven years ago, in the Royal Mansour Hotel in Casablanca. I wanted to know of changes occurring on the political front. The large number of medicines he was taking caught my attention. He explained how these were his daily meal, which included painkillers since the pain he felt was unbearable. Prince Saud, may his soul rest in peace, had been living on pain relievers for years. He underwent many surgeries, and despite all that, he remained conscious and did not give up on his vitality and activity. He was a great national treasure.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 11, 2015.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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