Saudi King Salman orders government reshuffle, FM Jubeir replaced

Dec 28, 2018, 00:34
Saudi King Salman orders government reshuffle, FM Jubeir replaced

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman appointed Ibrahim Al-Assaf as Foreign Minister and Adel Al-Jubeir as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in a major Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.

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

Al Assaf had been serving as minister of state, and has held a seat on the boards of oil-giant Saudi Aramaco and the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

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.

The surprise shake up saw the appointment of a new National Guard chief and the replacement of the information minister and the head of the tourism authority, but the ministries of energy and finance were left untouched despite an economic downturn.

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Abdul Aziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal has replaced Turki Al-Sheikh as president of the Sports Authority, while Turki Al-Sheikh has been appointed as Chairman of the Entertainment Authority.

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

The SPA said the royal order also relieved the kingdom's ambassador to the UK, Mohammed bin Nawwaf, from his post and reassigned him as an advisor to the Saudi king.

He was briefly detained in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton, alongside dozens of other prominent Saudi royals and businessmen.

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

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

Senior U.S. lawmakers have blamed the crown prince the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, a conclusion they said was backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. While President Donald Trump has sought to emphasize the importance of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia, prominent senators have come out against the crown prince, with one, Republican Lindsey Graham, describing him as "crazy" and "dangerous".

The critic's killing has tainted the image of 33-year-old Prince Mohammed - the de facto ruler and heir apparent - even though the kingdom strongly denies he was involved.

"This reshuffle doesn't undercut the crown prince, meaning that those within the US Congress who want to see his role reduced will have an argument that further action should still be taken".

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