PRINCE MUQRIN BIN ABDUL-AZIZ
Position: Director general of Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency (GIP)
Career: The youngest son of the Saudi kingdom's founder, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz lived in relative anonymity for the first 60 years of his life. Born in 1945 and educated in the West, Prince Muqrin served in the Royal Saudi Air Force and as governor of several Saudi provinces, including al-Madinah, whose capital is the holy city of Medina. In 2005, he was tapped by his half brother King Abdullah to head the GIP, a daunting task given his lack of intelligence experience and the long shadow of his predecessors, among them legendary chief Prince Turki bin Faisal.
Influence: Despite his inexperience, Muqrin's star has risen quickly in the past three years as he has become a versatile point man for King Abdullah. Muqrin's responsibilities include managing Riyadh's critical Pakistan and Afghanistan portfolio. He has been a regular visitor to Islamabad, maintaining the kingdom's relationships with a wide array of Pakistani political leaders. As for Afghanistan, Muqrin was dispatched to Kabul in January to meet leading officials, including President Hamid Karzai.
The prince might have had an ulterior motive: News reports suggest that the trip was part of Muqrin's overall campaign to bring Taliban leaders into talks with Kabul, suggesting that Muqrin is continuing his predecessor's policy of maintaining contact with Taliban leaders. A month later, Muqrin was sent to Damascus to personally deliver overtures to the Assad regime as part of the larger Arab campaign to reengage Syria. Involvement in critical Saudi foreign-policy efforts and his relative youth have positioned Muqrin well for greater responsibilities in the near future.