Thobes and Daggers: CIA Veterans Assess U.S. Options in Saudi Arabia
How Joe Biden can—and can’t—get rid of the notorious MBS, a man he called a 'thug'
Imagine: It’s a cold morning in Paris, only a few weeks from now. A call comes in to the CIA station chief at his office atop the elegant American embassy near the Champs Elysées. It’s from a Lebanese businessman who was a friendly, occasional source when both were ambitious young men in Beirut years ago. He just wants to “catch up,” he says. “It’s been so many years!”
They set a time and place, in an upscale, but out-of-the-way café. But hanging up, the CIA man suspects there’s more behind the meeting than drinks, reminiscences and gossip about the Middle East, where his contact has made a fortune.
And it turns out there is, eventually. After a few more get-togethers where each man has gently probed each other’s views, the Lebanese businessman finally shows his hand: He’s the emissary of several dissident Saudi princes who want to know where the Biden administration might stand on a plot to overthrow the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The CIA man is not ent…