Richard Murphy

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Richard V. Murphy is president of Richard W. Murphy Associates (2004-present). He was a Foreign Service Officer, retiring with the highest rank of Career Ambassador. He is a scholar at the Middle East Institute, having been its president from 1993 to 2001. He was ambassador to four countries, including Saudi Arabia, and retired to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Commenting on the Obama Administration's Mideast policy, he believes Obama will clearly be in charge, with Hillary Clinton as his chief adviser. Dennis Ross, he said, is trusted by Israel, and may identify common interests between Israel and Iran. George Mitchell makes Israel nervous, in the sense they see him as a powerful negotiator. Murphy said that he did not know Chas Freeman personally, but "I know it is trite to say this but he is known to bring truth to power;" Murphy saw him as more of a China than Saudi specialist.[1]

On the Saudi relationship with terrorism, he commented, in 2002,
There is no question that the Saudi investigations into 9/11 have been inadequate...American criticisms of their cooperation dates back to the Riyadh and Khobar bombings of the 1990s. The Saudis did not welcome a planeload of FBI agents flying in to Riyadh and wanting immediate access to those who had been arrested in connection with the earlier bombings. The perpetrators of the Riyadh bombing were executed before they could be interviewed by the Americans.... After 9/11, the Saudis went into deep denial.. Still, I am struck by the fact that 15 hijackers were Saudis. That suggests that in recruiting them, somebody had in mind Osama bin Laden’s political goal of driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States. He seeks the exit of American forces from the Arabian Peninsula and the overthrow of the House of Saud, which he has attacked as impious for having invited in "infidel forces" in 1990 during Operation Desert Shield. The hijackers could have been recruited from al-Qaeda supporters from Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, or the United Arab Emirates.[2]

In 1996, while senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, asked by Crown Prince Abdallah, of the House of Saud, to intervene with the Clinton Administration with respect to Saudi cash flow and regional security problems. Part of the request was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, but not let it be seen that the Kingdom was destabilizing another Arab country. Alternatively, Abdallah wanted the sanctions lifted to improve Saudi commerce.[3]

He was Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia (1983-1989), retiring to go to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York as the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for the Middle East. Murphy retired from that position in 2004. [4]

From 1968 to 1971 in Washington, D.C., he was Country Director for the Arabian Peninsula and Director of Personnel for the Near Eastern Bureau. He was then appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mauretania, and, in 1974, U.S. Ambassador to Syria (1974-78). Later, he was U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1981-1983).

Murphy holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an A.B. from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. .


  1. Abbas Al Lawati (26 March 2009), "Richard W. Murphy" Obama has the final say", Gulfnews
  2. Iraq Inspections Have a 50-50 Chance of Averting War, Says Council's Middle East Fellow Richard Murphy, Council on Foreign Relations, 27 November 2000
  3. Robert Baer (2007), Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, Crown, ISBN 1400050219, pp. 183-184
  4. Daniel Mandel and Asaf Romirowsky (Fall 2005), "The Council on Foreign Relations Does the Middle East", Middle East Quarterly