Saudi intelligence chief in Damascus for all-out bid to rescue Gaza truce
The Saudi and Egyptian intelligence chiefs launched a dramatic bid Sunday night, Feb. 15, to maneuver Hamas into accepting Egyptian-Israel terms for an extended ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, debkafile‘s Middle East sources disclose. In an unannounced visit to Damascus, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the head of Saudi intelligence service, told Syrian president Bashar Assad that Riyadh and Cairo would shelve their quarrel with him if he coerced Hamas into accepting a truce.
Egyptian intelligence Gen. Omar Suleiman, who led the negotiations with Hamas, flew to Riyadh Sunday night to call on King Abdullah.
The two spymasters set out after preparing the ground with their Syrian colleague Gen. Muhammad Nasif, Assad’s special intelligence adviser. President Hosni Mubarak decided to have Gen. Suleiman waiting in the Saudi capital to see what comes out of the Damascus talks and be on hand to keep the king advised of Cairo’s position on the next developments, including a possible conversation between Abdullah and Assad.
As a further incentive for Assad to rescue the Cairo truce initiative, the Egyptian and Saudi governments offered him their backing in the dialogue he will soon be holding with the Obama administration.