RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – King Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered a major government reshuffle on Thursday, December 27, replacing the ministers of foreign affairs and information, a royal decree said.
The shake up comes as the kingdom grapples with international outrage over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a scandal that has tipped Riyadh into one of its worst international crises.
Ibrahim al-Assaf, a former finance minister, will replace Adel al-Jubeir as foreign minister, the decree said.
Jubeir was demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs, it added.
Turki al-Shabanah was appointed as the new minister of information, replacing Awwad al-Awwad – who was named as an advisor to the royal court.
Turki al-Sheikh, a close aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was removed as the head of the kingdom's sports commission and named entertainment authority chief.
The fallout over Khashoggi's murder is widely seen as the kingdom's worst diplomatic crisis since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, in which most of the hijackers were identified as Saudi nationals.
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.
But so far it has not threatened to unseat the prince, who has effectively neutered his political rivals and tightened his grip on military and security agencies.
After the reshuffle, Prince Mohammed is set to maintain his political and security posts, including that of defense minster. – Rappler.com