Saudi king demotes incumbent foreign minister over Khashoggi’s murder

Saudi king demotes incumbent foreign minister over Khashoggi’s murder

Saudi king demotes incumbent foreign minister over Khashoggi’s murder

In Saudi Arabia, King Salman has consolidated power for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ordering a reshuffle of the Cabinet, almost three months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which caused worldwide uproar and brought Saudi leadership under close scrutiny. In other significant appointments, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar was named chief of the powerful National Guard, and Musaed al-Aiban, a Harvard graduate, was appointed the new national security adviser.

Al-Assaf is well known to worldwide investors, having led several Saudi delegations to the World Economic Forum in Davos. The restructuring was necessitated by King Salman, following the demise of Khashoggi. He, however, said the changes were in line with a law that requires the Cabinet to be replaced or reappointed every four years, rather than a reaction to the killing. Turki al-Sheikh, a close aide to the crown prince, was removed as the head of the kingdom's sports commission and named entertainment authority chief. The reshuffle comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to fix its tarnished image after Khashoggi's murder, widely seen as its 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. Lindsey Graham, blame Prince Mohammed for the murder and say the Central Intelligence Agency backs that conclusion.

His appointment ended, for now, speculation that the post would be filled by Prince Khalid bin Salman, a younger brother of the crown prince who serves as the Saudi ambassador to the United States and has faced criticism for his early denials about a Saudi role in Khashoggi's disappearance. Russia, increasingly influential in the region, has expressed support for Prince Mohammed. In other changes, Turki al-Shabanah, an executive at broadcaster Rotana, was appointed as the new information minister, replacing Awwad al-Awwad - who was named as an advisor to the royal court.

He also ordered a shakeup of the kingdom's supreme council that oversees matters related to security.

"The issue of Jamal Khashoggi... really saddened us, all of us", Ibrahim al-Assaf told AFP, a day after he was appointed a foreign minister in a government reshuffle. He was also detained for several months a year ago during a round-up of hundreds of business executives, princes and government ministers in what Saudi authorities called an "anti-corruption" sweep. Al-Assaf "will lead that effort".

Kamran Bokhari, a foreign policy specialist at the University of Ottawa's Professional Development Institute, said Thursday's reshuffle is part of a "public relations" drive, meant to show "that the government is not just running amok killing its own citizens in consulates, and that there is serious reform underway".

Related news