Prince Bandar bin Sultan has been a mainstay of Saudi Arabian politics for many decades, but has decided to step down from his role as the kingdom’s intelligence chief.

The sometimes controversial official has enjoyed a long and varied career as both a politician and a military officer. His experience as a diplomat has been essential at times for Riyadh, especially in his dealings with the US.

However, there is no doubt the new change in the kingdom’s foreign policy does not utilise the strengths of Prince Bandar, and this is likely to be one of the main reasons for his departure.

Saudi Arabia now firmly believes in aligning its foreign and domestic security strategies in order to secure its borders and ensure its interests within the region are protected. This is what led to Prince Bandar being replaced by Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as the leading figure in the kingdom’s efforts to fund and arm opposition forces in Syria.

Riyadh is engaging in a balancing act with Syria that it knows could have serious domestic repercussions. It wants to depose Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but not replace it with Islamic terrorist groups that could then turn their attention to Saudi Arabia.

It is likely the new intelligence chief will be working closely with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and it will be interesting to see who from the royal family is ultimately positioned in the role.

While Prince Bandar’s contribution to his country is likely never to be forgotten in the kingdom, the geopolitical landscape is changing in the Middle East and it might be a good time for a fresh outlook on how best to secure the kingdom’s interests.