Saudi Arabia has sidelined its intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, by transferring key aspects of the Syrian dossier to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, diplomatic sources said.
A Western diplomat in the Persian Gulf region told AFP on Thursday that Prince Bandar is no longer in charge of the Syrian dossier, leaving Prince Nayef primarily responsible.
According to a source close to the dossier, Prince Nayef participated in a meeting last week in Washington between Western and Arab officials to discuss the situation in Syria.
The change holds promise for a return to smoother relations with the US, The Wall Street Journal wrote in a report.
Nayef, who has won praise in Washington for his counterterror work against al Qaeda in Yemen and elsewhere, is now a main figure in carrying out Syria policy, a royal adviser and a security analyst briefed by Saudi officials said Tuesday.
Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, Saudi King Abdullah's son and head of the Saudi National Guard, has also assumed a bigger share of responsibility for the kingdom's policy towards Syria, the advisers said.
Diplomatic sources added that Washington has criticized Prince Bandar's management of the Syrian dossier.
Prince Bandar, the son of the former Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, was appointed in July 2012 as the head of the Saudi Intelligence Service. He had previously served as the Saudi Ambassador to Washington for 22 years and played a key role in encouraging the Bush administration to invade Iraq in 2003.
The Saudi media have not covered any activity of Prince Bandar's since January.
A diplomatic source told AFP that he was hospitalized recently in the United States and is currently in Morocco.
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