Riyadh- A year ago, on June 27th, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia lost an exceptional diplomat who had served his country for four decades. Suffering inside all the turmoil and anxiety ravaging the country and Arab region throughout his career, Prince Saud al-Faisal had died of a cardiac arrest after spending a lifetime in career devotion at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Many concerns were borne by the Prince, may Allah rest his soul in peace. According to those closest to the late Saudi FM, his worst distress was brought about by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The total war waged by the notorious Iraqi dictator was short to unexpected.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks, the warning of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, Iranian infiltration and dominance of Iraq and last but not least the worldwide wave which came to be known by the Arab Spring, each of which were a considerable burden carried by the late Saud al-Faisal.
Prince Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid, assistant to former FM Saud al-Faisal, speaking to Asharq Al- Awsat newspaper acknowledged the phenomenal and highly cultural man the late FM was. He brought up al-Faisal’s deep insight into domains of history, philosophy and literature; add to that, the late FM was known for his brilliant mind and admirable opinion and decisions.
Having accompanied the late FM in youth, Prince Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid pointed out that the late Prince al-Faisal had graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in addition to minoring in political sciences. Al-Faisal was also said to have shown interest in architecture and had day-to-day involvement with the foreign ministry’s plans, improving them despite not having studied architecture.
Prince Khalid also mentioned that the late FM enjoyed a photographic memory. Employing his vested abilities, FM al-Faisal cited three-decade-old documents, U.N. and League of Arab States resolutions by heart compared to other officials needing to refer to the archives.
Al-Faisal’s capacities made him a man who both served his country and many of the kingdom’s leaderships. The late FM served under the reigns of late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz and the current Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. FM al-Faisal was not only taken for his political advice but was also well-heard outside his administrative post.
Moreover, during the times of the invasion of Kuwait, the late FM, when signing the renewal of bilateral affairs with the Soviet Union, was taken on a tour of Kremlin’s Red Square by Speaker of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union Yevgeny Primakov. As Primakov was briefing the late FM on a church in the square, he viewed the possibilities of building a mosque near the church, well-known for seizing opportunities, the late FM gave an answer within a heartbeat , offering that Saudi Arabia would build the mosque as soon as the decision was taken, according to Prince Khalid.
Prince Khalid also confirmed that the late FM loved nothing more than his job. Despite his illness, late Prince al-Faisal would start his workday at 7:00 am working non-stop as late as 10:00 pm.
Not quitting when fatigued, as his medical condition escalated the late FM would take work home, holding meetings round the clock.
Understanding the weight he was responsible for, when asked to rest from meetings and extensive diplomacy-brokering calls, the late FM would tell Prince Khalid that how he could be asked to rest when leaders of nations await results.
The late FM also made sure that the Palestinian question was always a priority on his list, which he thought should be met with broad diplomatic responsiveness and with all the means necessary as to reach a settlement and deliver justice. He took upon himself to attend the legal shores of the Palestinian crisis and to follow it up internationally.
“Had Arabs and Muslims gotten together as nations and committed to the Palestine cause practically and worked on confronting Israel peacefully, they would have won,” al-Faisal would say, according to Prince Khaled.
Moreover, Prince Khaled believes that it was the Gulf War which had taken its ominous toll on the late FM’s health. Prince Saud al-Faisal started exhibiting health trouble in 1992, as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait brought about acute stress- especially with the greatest shock lying in an Arab state invading another fellow Arab state. The rift in the Arab world brought to pass was a steep uphill which troubled the late diplomat.
Prince Saud al-Faisal had also given a considerable amount of his attention to fears of cyber wars, especially with the U.S. experiencing multiple cases of disruption and security breaches. The late FM feared that the U.S. incidents were but trials of a new form of war. By and by his fears proved right in a sense; Saudi Aramco, national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs were later subjected to a cyber-breach.
Prince Khalid said that the late FM made sure to work until the last possible moment, it was until his health stood in the way of him fulfilling his duties justly that al-Faisal left the ministry.
Last but not least, Prince Khalid also spoke of the late FM’s aspirations and political intentions for uniting all Arab nations in a particular way which Prince Khalid was kept from knowing.