Saudi king orders government reshuffle after Khashoggi fallout

Dec 28, 2018, 00:32
Saudi king orders government reshuffle after Khashoggi fallout

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has issued a wide-ranging overhaul of top government posts, including naming a new foreign minister, following worldwide fallout from the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi almost three months ago.

Ibrahim al-Assaf will replace Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign ministry said on Thursday citing the decree.

Also in the pictures were: Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid al-Qasabi, Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, Minister of Culture Prince Bader bin Abdullah, Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd, Minister of the National Guard Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, and head of the Public Investment Fund Yasir al-Rumayyan.

The change, which looks like a clear demotion for al-Jubeir, who was demoted, comes following pressure being put on Riyadh over its military campaign in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on December 13, 2017, shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman (L) arriving for the opening of the shura council ordinary session in Riyadh.

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One significant change affects a close aide of Prince Mohammed, Turki al-Sheikh, who was named as head of the kingdom's general entertainment authority, a body created in recent years to help organise and promote concerts and other events that had always been banned in the conservative country.

Al-Jubeir's post was taken by Ibrahim al-Assaf, a long-time finance minister of the Kingdom.

King Salman further ordered the creation of the Saudi Space Agency, to be chaired by his 62-year-old son, Prince Sultan bin Salman.

Assaf was held in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel previous year along with hundreds of elite princes and businessmen, in what the government called an anti-corruption crackdown.

Turki Shabbaneh, a Saudi TV presenter, was named minister of media.

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"The reshuffle saw the appointment of some young princes, but also veteran statesmen to positions of power".

Saudi Arabia on Thursday said it was creating government bodies to boost oversight of its intelligence operations, in the wake of Khashoggi's murder.

"The primary bone of contention between Saudi Arabia and American lawmakers is the power of Prince Mohammed and his responsibility for the murder of Khashoggi", said Ryan Bohl, from the U.S. geopolitical think tank Stratfor.

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

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on October 23, 2018.

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Saudi Arabia last week slammed as "interference" a US Senate resolution that held Prince Mohammed responsible for the killing, warning that the move could have repercussions on its strategic ties with Washington.