Saudi Arabia demotes foreign minister in wake of Khashoggi case

Saudi king orders major government reshuffle

Saudi king orders major government reshuffle

Saudi Arabia's King Salman ordered a sweeping government reshuffle Thursday, replacing key security and political figures including the foreign minister, as the kingdom grapples with the worldwide fallout over critic Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

Saudi Arabia's embattled foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who fronted global media after the scandal, has now been replaced by former finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf.

Meanwhile, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar - the son of Prince Bandar al-Saud, who once served as Saudi ambassador to Washington - was named head of the National Guard.

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

Abdulaziz 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.

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

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.

Turki al-Shabanah was announced as the new minister of media and information. Prince Sultan had been head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).

"The reshuffle saw the appointment of some young princes, but also veteran statesmen to positions of power".

Al Jubeir played a key role in putting a face on the Saudi response to Khashoggi's killing at its Istanbul consulate.

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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.

Sheikh's appointment as head of entertainment means he no longer oversees a cybersecurity and programming body that was led by Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide to Prince Mohammed who was sacked from his post and sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for helping to mastermind the plot in Istanbul that led to Khashoggi's killing.

"The primary bone of contention between Saudi Arabia and American lawmakers is the power of Prince Mohammed and his responsibility for the murder of Khashoggi", said Ryan Bohl, from the USA geopolitical think tank Stratfor.

Saudi Arabia denies the crown prince knew of the plot.

Russian Federation has built increasingly close ties to Saudi Arabia since King Salman appointed Prince Mohammed as his heir, turning the 33-year-old into the oil-rich kingdom's de facto ruler. The U.S. Senate, however, passed a unanimous resolution saying it believes the crown prince is to blame for the murder.

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