Pragmatic Non-Royal to be Next Saudi Ambassador to the United States

For Saudi watchers, some fascinating news has just made its way to this blogger.

A former staffer at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, ADEL AL-JUBEIR, who comes from a distinguished, yet non-royal family, has risen to such levels of esteem in the estimation of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah that he has been appointed the next Saudi Ambassador to the United States.

This is quite remarkable news. One of the rumored successors to Prince Turki al-Faisal, who recently resigned as Ambassador in Washington with plans to depart at the end of January 2007, was Prince Turki's cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al-Saud, who is currently Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Prince Mohammed succeeded Prince Turki in London after having served as Ambassador to Italy after Turki was assigned to Washington. Many expected Prince Mohammed to move to Washington, but family concerns kept the Ambassador in the United Kingdom.

Wanting someone trusted and close -- closer than family to some degree -- King Abdullah has now appointed his personal foreign policy advisor to serve as his Ambassador in Washington. Abdullah met the relatively young Adel al-Jubeir in Washington some years ago -- when he was Director of Communications at the Embassy. Adel's brother, Nail Al-Jubeir, now holds the very same position that Adel once heldo in Saudi Arabia's Washington Embassy.

When King Abudullah was Crown Prince he briefly met al-Jubeir on a trip to the United States and subsequently requested that he become the Crown Prince's foreign policy advisor.

Adel al-Jubeir's appointment will be formally announced after the U.S. Department of State notifies the Saudi government that al-Jubeir's credentials will be accepted. "No problems are anticipated," according to an insider source.

More later -- but this is fairly big news.

-- Steve Clemons is Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note