Published: Fri, December 28, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Saudi king orders government reshuffle after Khashoggi fallout

Saudi king orders government reshuffle after Khashoggi fallout

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has appointed a new foreign minister as part of a major cabinet reshuffle, according to Saudi state media.

The royal decree appoints former Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and assigns former foreign affairs minister Adel Al-Jubeir, to the post of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

The reshuffle came with the Saudi government trying to deal with intense global pressure over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. 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.

Russian Federation warned the US against any effort to influence the royal succession in Saudi Arabia, offering its support to embattled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who's under continuing pressure over the killing of a government critic.

Musaed al-Aiban was appointed national security adviser.

Turki al-Shabana, an executive at broadcaster Rotana, was appointed minister of information.

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

Mr Assaf was detained briefly in the Crown Prince's anti-corruption crackdown last year but was released within weeks of his detention at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel last year.

"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.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman talks with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2018.

The shakeup comes after Saudi Arabia last week said it was creating government bodies to boost oversight of its intelligence operations, in the wake of Khashoggi's murder.

Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. The U.S. Senate, however, passed a unanimous resolution saying it believes the crown prince is to blame for the murder.

But the critic's killing has tainted the image of the 33-year-old prince - 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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