Regularly known as ‘Dean of Arab Diplomats, a person who dedicated his life to faithfully serve his country, late Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud or Saud Al-Faisal is Saudi politician and diplomat who served as the third Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1975 to 2015.
By the time of his retirement, he became the longest-serving Secretary of State in the world.
Saud Al-Faisal was born in the city of Taif in 1940; he is one of the sons of late King Faisal.
Saud graduated from Princeton University in 1964 with a BA in Economics.
Directly after graduation, he joined the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources (currently the Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources) and worked as an economic advisor to it and a member of the Ministry’s Higher Coordination Committee.
Then he moved to the General Corporation for Petroleum and Minerals (Petromin) and became responsible for the Petroleum Relations Office, which oversees the coordination of the relationship between the Ministry and Petromin.
Later, he was appointed as Deputy Governor of Petromin for Planning Affairs, in 1971 he was appointed Undersecretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.
In 1975, a royal decree was issued appointing him as Minister of Foreign Affairs after the position became vacant due to the death of his father, King Faisal bin Abdulaziz, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs and the King of the country.
Saud continued in his position as (Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister) until April 2015.
After that, he was appointed Minister of State, Member of the Cabinet, Adviser and Special Envoy of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and supervisor of foreign affairs. Saud Al-Faisal passed away in July 2015.
Saud Al-Faisal held several other duties, including a member of the Supreme Petroleum Council, Vice-President of the Supreme Media Council, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Commission for the Protection and Development of Wildlife.
Al-Faisal was a Managing Director of its Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Trustees of the King Faisal Foundation, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of King Faisal Schools.
Moreover, under his work as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he participated in the membership of many Arab and Islamic committees, such as the Arab Committee for Lebanon, the Arab Solidarity Committee, the Arab Seven Committee, the Al-Quds Committee, and the Arab Tripartite Committee on Lebanon among the foreign ministers of the three countries and others. He also spoke seven languages, besides Arabic, he spoke English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Hebrew.
Saud Al-Faisal is the fourth son of King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the second from his wife, Queen Effat bint Muhammad bin Saud Al-Thunayan Al Saud, whom King Faisal married in 1932 when he was Deputy King Ali Al-Hejaz and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He is also the grandson of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the brother of Muhammad Al-Faisal, Abdul-Rahman Al-Faisal, Bandar Al-Faisal, Turki Al-Faisal, Sarah Al-Faisal, Latifa and Lulwa Al-Faisal, and Haifa Al-Faisal.
He lived with his father and brothers in Taif, where his father, King Faisal, lived in the palace when he was King Abdulaziz‘s deputy in the Hijaz.
Saud Al-Faisal grew up at the beginning of his life in the city of Taif, he received his primary, intermediate and secondary education at Al-Taif Model School located in the Al-Salama neighborhood.
He later studied at the Hun and Princeton School and graduated from Princeton University in New Jersey, USA, in 1964, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics.
Saud Al-Faisal had joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the reign of his father, King Faisal.
At that time, Al-Faisal worked alongside the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Omar Al-Saqqaf, after the death of Omar Al-Saqqaf, he was appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from March 29 to October 13, 1975.
He continued in the aforementioned position until a royal decree was issued appointing him as Minister of Foreign Affairs after the position became vacant due to the death of his father, King Faisal, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs during his rule over the country.
On October 13, 1975, Saud Al-Faisal was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs during the reign of King Khalid bin Abdulaziz under Royal Order No A/236 on, about seven months after the vacancy of the position occupied by his father.
In the thirties of his age, he headed the Saudi delegation in many meetings of the Arab and Islamic summits on behalf of the King of the country, in addition to his permanent leadership of the Saudi delegation to the meetings of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers as well as the annual meetings of the United Nations General Assembly for the period he spent as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Saud Al-Faisal served as Foreign Affairs Minister for nearly 40 years.
This is the longest term in office for a foreign minister in the world. He lived during the reign of four kings, Khalid, Fahd, Abdullah, and Salman.
Saud al-Faisal played a major role in the efforts that led to an end to the Lebanese civil war, especially with the Taif Agreement in 1989; he managed to shape Saudi foreign policy during the Iran-Iraq war, the period of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and during the Gulf War that led to the liberation of Kuwait.
He also contributed to the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
During his tenure in the ministry, he witnessed several other events, most notably the events of September 11, the US invasion of Iraq, the Arab Spring, and the subsequent events in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya.
The Palestinian Cause
Saud al-Faisal put the Palestinian issue at the forefront of his concerns, this appeared apparently in his first speech to the United Nations in 1977 in which he attacked Israel, criticizing and stating that it possesses nuclear weapons and does not seek peace.
Al-Faisal believed that this issue requires not only diplomacy but the use of all means to reach the desired goal and to communicate it to the international community.
The Arab Peace Initiative
The idea of the initiative dates back to 1981 when Saudi Arabia adopted it, the initiative was put forward by Fahd bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Crown Prince at the time, but Saudi Arabia was forced to withdraw it because it did not enjoy Arab consensus at the time.
Later, the Arab Peace Initiative was announced during the Arab Summit that was held in Beirut in 2002. It was launched by Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Crown Prince at the time.
The initiative included the complete withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories, including the Golan Heights until the 1967 borders, solving the Palestinian refugee problem, and accepting the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, which includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Saud Al-Faisal headed the delegation of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf in his capacity as Chairman of the Ministerial Council of the Cooperation Council, along with the Secretary-General of the Council, Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah at the time.
Saudi Arabia launched an initiative of agreement between the two movements of Hamas and Fatah in Mecca, and that was during the reign of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, from 6 to 8 February 2007, in which it was agreed to form a Palestinian national unity government.
Saud al-Faisal believed that the Mecca agreement between the two movements enhances the chances of coming up with a unified Arab position that supports the Arab peace initiative.
Despite the positive atmosphere that accompanied the announcement, tension remained in the period following the signing of the agreement and the events that followed that resulted in Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip, which led to a split between the two parties.
The Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese civil war had begun less than three months before he assumed the position as foreign minister, (The War) lasted from 1975 until 1990, where his efforts after fifteen years of civil war contributed to stopping and preventing it without making things worse than they were.
The Saudi diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Lebanon passed through major stations, starting with the Six-Party Summit in Riyadh in 1976, passing through the National Dialogue Conference in Geneva in 1983, and a conference in Lausanne in 1984, ending with the Taif Agreement in 1989.
The Taif Agreement included four basic articles; the first of it stipulated the affirmation of Lebanon’s independence in terms of Arab identity and its political form as a democratic parliamentary republic.
The second article stipulated the dissolution of all militias and the strengthening of internal security and the armed forces, while the third article stipulated its liberation from the Israeli occupation, and the fourth article dealt with Lebanese-Syrian relations.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
The Gulf Cooperation Council was established during the reign of King Khalid bin Abdulaziz on May 25, 1981, to include six countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. Saud Al-Faisal contributed to its establishment and supported its career.
The actual beginning of the stages of establishing the Council was in August 1980, when Saudi Arabia, through the Islamic Summit held in the city of Taif, presented a project that works to establish a Gulf grouping that aims to keep the sovereignty of each state, facilitating the maintenance of law and encouraging those states to achieve independence.
Saud al-Faisal led Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy during the Iran-Iraq war, which began in 1980 and continued until 1988. At that time, he wanted the matter to be concluded between the Iraqi and Iranian parties through a peaceful solution so that the war would not spread and affect the rest of the region’s countries in general.
The position of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries was officially neutral, but in reality, it was biased towards Iraq. The contribution of the Gulf States to Iraq in the war was estimated at $ 200 billion.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait collected 300,000 barrels per day to compensate Iraq for the decline in its oil production.
Second Gulf War
On August 2, 1990, the Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, and as a result, Saudi Arabia, through Saud Al-Faisal and under the directives of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, mobilized an international coalition consisting of 32 Arab and Western countries on January 17, 1991.
This mobilization appeared after endless attempts to follow a peaceful end to the crisis.
At that time, Saud Al-Faisal had led the diplomatic efforts regionally and internationally, in coordination with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, especially with Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time.
Political analysts and some companions including Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid who served as Al-Faisal’s assistant at that time believe that this war was the cause of the deterioration of his (Saud Al-Faisal) health due to the large number of movements and psychological pressures he experienced during that period.
The invasion of Iraq
In 2003, the US forces launched military operations on Iraq with the support of other countries, which led to the military occupation of Iraq by the United States. Saud al-Faisal had stated at the end of 2002 that Saudi Arabia was against launching a war against Iraq.
At the beginning of the year 2003, Saud Al-Faisal warned of the consequences of going to war if the UN Security Council approved it, and demanded that Arab countries be allowed to intervene as a mediator to prevent war.
“The UN Security Council should not be an organ specialized in granting war licenses as much as it is an organ concerned with searching for peaceful solutions to maintain global security and stability, which will only be achieved by preserving the security and stability of its countries and their territorial integrity, including Iraq.” he stressed.