Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered a government reshuffle on Thursday aimed at replacing key security and political figures including the foreign minister, as the kingdom struggles with the international fallout over critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
The surprise shake-up saw the appointment of new ministers of the powerful National Guard, information and education, as well as the head of a new space agency, but the energy and finance ministries were unaffected despite an economic downturn.
The reshuffle did not affect the authority of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler facing intense international scrutiny over the October 2 murder of journalist Khashoggi, which shifted the kingdom into one of its worst crises.
Ibrahim al-Assaf, a former finance minister who was last year detained in an anti-corruption pursuit, will replace Adel al-Jubeir as foreign minister, a royal decree disclosed.
Jubeir who had made attempts to defend the tainted government internationally after Khashoggi’s murder got demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs, the decree added without explaining further.
Other notable appointments include; Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, who was named chief of the powerful National Guard, and Musaed al-Aiban, a Harvard graduate, who was appointed as the new national security adviser.
The reshuffle is meant to help the crown prince consolidate even more power as the majority of those promoted are perceived to be his key allies”, tweeted Ali Shihabi, head of the pro-Saudi think tank The Arabia Foundation.