Published: Fri, December 28, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Saudi king demotes FM in revamp seen as whitewash

Saudi king demotes FM in revamp seen as whitewash

Meanwhile, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar - the son of Prince Bandar Al Saud who once served as Saudi ambassador to Washington - was named head of the National Guard, tasked primarily with the protection of the Al Saud ruling family.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signs documents during the 2019 budget meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. "The King made a decision and I can't even imagine on what grounds someone in America will interfere in such an issue and think about who should rule Saudi Arabia, now or in the future".

Al-Jubeir, the soft-spoken foreign minister since 2015, will be demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs.

General Kalid bin Qirar al Harbi was named general security chief, while Musaed a Aiban was appointed national security adviser.

Among other appointments, Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal has replaced Turki al-Sheikh, a close ally of MBS, as president of the country's sports authority. He holds a seat on the boards of state-owned oil firm Saudi Aramco and the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. Prince Mohammed oversees both entities.

Assaf was released within weeks of his detention at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel past year after being cleared of wrongdoing and without making any payment to the state, as many others held in the crackdown had to do.

The fallout over Khashoggi's murder is widely seen as the kingdom's worst diplomatic crisis since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, in which most of the hijackers were identified as Saudi nationals.

Israeli Airstrikes Target Hezbollah Arms Depot near Damascus
The strike was also connected with differing reports of the presence of at least one Iranian cargo jet at Damascus Airport. Syrian media said that most of the incoming missiles were intercepted by its defences, which were filmed firing overnight.

"You can not delink Khashoggi from any developments, though government reshuffles are customary every four years", said Mohammed Alyahya, a senior fellow at the Gulf Research Centre. "There is an effort to balance the fast pace of reform with bolstering government procedures and institutions".

Last week the kingdom announced the creation of three government bodies aimed at improving its intelligence operations.

After the only surviving full brother of King Salman, Prince Ahmed, returned to Saudi Arabia from London in late October, speculation emerged that disgruntled members of the Saudi royal family might seek to install Ahmed, the crown prince's uncle, instead of him as king.

The murder has battered the reputation of the 33-year-old crown prince, who controls all major levers of power.

After the reshuffle, Prince Mohammed is set to maintain his political and security posts, including that of defense minster.

Saudi Arabia last week slammed as "interference" a US Senate resolution that held Prince Mohammed responsible for the killing, and another that sought to end American military support for the Riyadh-led war in Yemen.

"Because the Saudi consul general in Istanbul was very much involved in the killing of Khashoggi and that would fall under al-Jubeir".

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