Saudi Arabia doesn’t seek conflict, rejects appeasement of Iran – New ambassador to UK

The newly-assigned Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who has received  military training at Sandhurst  is now leading a position as Saudi ambassador to London last year with many problems to face and very few solutions to enact, the Telegraph, UK-based newspaper reported in an interview published on January 24th.

The experience of being an officer cadet at Sandhurst in the 1990s has certainly left an indelible mark on Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the new Saudi ambassador to London. “Anyone who has undergone any military training will tell you it can often be a trying time,” he recalls.

The dynamic 42-year-old ambassador, who is directly descended from Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, has impeccable credentials for his current position, having spent much of his childhood at the Saudi embassy in Washington, where his father Prince Bandar, was his country’s long-serving ambassador.

He is also well-versed in the more elite institutions of British society, having been educated at Eton and Pembroke College, Oxford before going to Sandhurst. In his bachelor days he dated the actress and model Vanessa Haydon, who later married Donald Trump Jr, and is now himself married to Lucy, the niece of the 12th Duke of Northumberland.

Indeed, his ties to the British aristocracy are such that his wife’s maternal great grandmother, Lady Celia Crewe-Milnes, was actually born in the opulent mansion in London’s Curzon  Street that now houses the Saudi Embassy. Prince Khalid has decidedly mixed emotions about his privileged English upbringing.

Iran Issue

One of his main tasks as Ambassador will be to lobby the British government to take a hard line on the Iran issue, where Riyadh is a fierce critic of the nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015 as it does not address other issues, such as Iran’s activities elsewhere in the Arab world.

“Iran’s meddling in the region is as challenging as the nuclear programme,” he explained. “This is why we were concerned with the nuclear deal, because it did not address all the other things that Iran was doing in the region.

“We do not seek conflict. We do not seek escalation. We have always been supporters of taking a firm stand against Iran. Our issue is not with the people of Iran, it is with the regime running the country.

“But we do not believe in appeasement. At no point in history has appeasement proved to be a successful strategy. You cannot give in to a country like Iran because they will see it as a sign of weakness.”

Social Reforms

The other important issue Prince Khalid will be dealing with during his tenure as ambassador will be to promote the dramatic changes taking place in his country as part of the wholesale economic and social reforms being undertaken by the Crown Prince known as Vision 2030.

“The biggest challenge facing SA at the moment is domestic,” he said.