Saudi king appoints new foreign minister in major cabinet reshuffle

Saudi king orders major government reshuffle

Saudi king orders major government reshuffle

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has been demoted in a government reshuffle by the country's leader, King Salman.

Adel al Jubeir, the soft-spoken foreign minister since 2015 and face of the Saudi response to the crime in Istanbul, was replaced by Ibrahim al Assaf, who was formerly a finance minister.

Saudi Arabia is to get its own space agency, as King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud orders his 62-year-old son, Prince Sultan bin Salman, to lead the organisation.

Thursday's shake up is the first since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October by a Saudi hit squad.

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.

The order also demands a reorganisation of the Council of Political and Security Affairs, one of two sub-Cabinet committees in government, which is composed of the head of Intelligence and nine ministers.

Al-Sheikh, who is known to be close to the crown prince, was replaced as head of the Sports Authority by Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal.

General Kalid bin Qirar al-Harbi was also named general security chief, while Musaed al-Aiban was appointed national security adviser.

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Al-Jubeir was appointed to the rank of minister of state for foreign affairs.

Turki Shabbaneh has been appointed as Minister of Media, while Hamad Al Sheikh was appointed Minister of Education. Prince Sultan had been head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).

A former finance minister, Assaf was among dozens of royal family members, government officials, and top businessmen detained during an "anti-corruption purge" in November 2017.

"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.

After the reshuffle, Prince Mohammed is set to maintain his political and security posts, including that of defence minster.

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.

"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". The U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution saying it believes the crown prince is to blame, although Saudi Arabia denies the crown prince knew of the plot.

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