Saudi Arabia has informed the State Department that it intends to appoint Adel al-Jubeir, 44, as the new ambassador to Washington. Jubeir, who is one of King Abdullah's closest foreign policy advisers, is a well-known figure in Washington who was put out front by the kingdom in an effort to dissociate the Saudi royal family from al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks by Osama bin Laden.
In an appearance last year on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Jubeir disputed reports that bin Laden is still widely popular in the kingdom. "You can talk to radicals in Europe and they'll tell you that their agenda is very popular with the masses when, in fact, it's not," he said. "If Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia were popular, we would see an increase in recruitment, not a decrease. We would see an increase in their ability to do damage, not a decrease... We are winning the war on terrorism. It will take time, though."
Steve Clemons notes that Abdullah met the relatively young Jubeir in Washington some years ago -- when he was Director of Communications at the Embassy. His brother, Nail al-Jubeir, now holds the very same position in Saudi Arabia's Washington Embassy. When King Abudullah was Crown Prince he briefly met Jubeir on a trip to the U.S. and subsequently requested that he become his foreign policy advisor.
The appointment represents a meteoric rise for a man who last served in Washington as special assistant to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, now the Saudi national security adviser. His is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Georgetown University.